WestportNow welcomes letters from readers on matters pertaining to Westport and Westporters. Those of 300 words or less are given preference. Letters are edited for grammar, clarity, and accuracy. Publication shall be at the sole discretion of WestportNow. Third-party or anonymous letters, those signed with a pseudonym, or letters appearing in other publications are not published.
A postal address, e-mail address if available, and day and evening telephone numbers are required for verificiation purposes, although this information is not published. Letters may be submitted by e-mail to , via fax at (203) 286-2099, or by mail to 150 North Ave., Westport, CT 06880.
Saturday, April 02, 2016
Dale Call: ‘Beacon of Light’
To the Editor:
(Westport resident Annie Fasanella marked the retirement of Police Chief Dale Call after 35 years in verse:)
What paths you chose and did not yield,
For your quest to be best in your field.
To Westport’s police force, you dedicated your life,
Always focused and calm, despite any strife.
As a 1980s Staples grad,
You were brilliant and a lanky lad.
With your perseverance and your demeanor,
And years of hard work in graduate school,
You became a 21st century leader and a flawless jewel.
You “walk the talk” of “protect and serve,”
For the past 35 years.
I give thanks to you, with deep gratitude,
And “3 cheers!”
You’ve been a beacon of light-
Keeping Westport safe, both day and night,
In all kinds of weather,
Have made our town today, so much better.
Friday, February 19, 2016
Healthy Alternative to Crumb Rubber Artificial Turf
To the Editor:
As one of the last schools in Fairfield County to make the move to artificial turf, Greens Farms Academy (GFA) felt some pressure to “keep up with the Joneses” and install a turf field, mostly to ensure our athletes would have comparable playing conditions and a safe, consistent surface.
Several of our parents, however, voiced concerns about the potential health risks of the typical crumb rubber used in artificial turf. Listening to our parents, and not feeling completely confident about the current “industry standard” of crumb rubber, we began to research other options for artificial turf. Our trustees, always keeping both the health of our students and our surrounding ecosystem a top priority, looked into other options
In the end, GFA elected to use a greener alternative known as thermoplastic elastomer (TPE), a relatively new product in the United States. There was an initial hiccup, however. The TPE began to clump, so we needed to look for alternatives. In conversations with the manufacturer, FieldTurf, we decided that a cork composite would be the best option for replacement. However, although covered under warranty, the cork composite has to be manufactured overseas and took several weeks to arrive. We had a few weeks that fall of rescheduling games, and playing mostly away matches. But it was worth the wait and inconvenience. Once installed, the cork infill was tested for safety, and the results showed our field exceeded requirements within all parameters.
Our turf field has been up and running for four years now, and is used on a daily basis with positive feedback. It was and still is the most environmentally responsible and healthy option available, in addition to being cutting-edge in its design and in the use of cork as an infill.
Monday, November 09, 2015
Letter: Thanks for Saving a Life on Soccer Field
To the Editor:
On October 23, 2015 our son Andrew suddenly and for no apparent reason, cardiac arrested during halftime on the Staples soccer field. Andrew survived due to the amazing teamwork of some trained professionals and loving Staples parents.
Andrew was and is a conditioned varsity basketball athlete, with no prior medical history or pre-existing medical condition before this event.
We would like to publically thank Gaetana “G” Deiso (head athletic trainer at Staples), who provided breaths of life and chest compressions to maintain blood and oxygen flow; Tiffany Kinahan (a SCSU intern in athletic training at Staples) who assisted in CPR; Kerry Liles (a nurse and Staples parent) who assisted in CPR; Nicole Donovan (Westport EMT and Staples parent) who also assisted in CPR; Mark and MaryGrace Gudis (Staples parents) who had a defibrillator (AED) in the trunk of their car, which was used to shock Andrew back to life; and Corey Iomonico (assistant Staples athletic trainer) who brought an additional defibrillator to the scene.
Without the quick administration of CPR and the use of the AED, Andrew may not have survived.
Friday, November 06, 2015
Thank You From Coalition for Westport
To the Editor:
The Coalition for Westport wishes to congratulate all the successful candidates in the Nov. 3 election. CFW is pleased that Paul Lebowitz secured a seat on the P&Z, and is confident that he will bring a diverse and intelligent voice adding balance and moderation to the Commission’s deliberations.
All of the candidates for all offices, both those who won and those who lost, are owed our gratitude. Being a public servant is no easy task and their willingness to devote their time to the future of Westport is to be applauded.
The Coalition looks forward to hearing of, and contributing to, the ideas and plans for charting Westport’s future.
Coalition For Westport
Sunday, November 01, 2015
Thank You, Westport
To the Editor:
Thank you for the crane downtown! LOVE. It makes us look progressive and imposing, like a moving-forward kind of town.
One question: what does it do? Anything?
If not, I totally get it. For instance, the strip of parking spots next to the river in Parker Harding - you know, the ones we all covet when the lot is full and we just stopped by for a quick Starbuck’s and we’ve circled the lot for 20 minutes and there’s no place to park our car except for the 15 empty, beckoning spots over which a “No Parking Permit Only” lords? The spots which, after roughly 12 calls to Town Hall and Main Street businesses, no one is able to offer the remotest clue about how to obtain said permit? Yes, those.
Those spots and the crane are like Chanel: even though you’ll never directly benefit from their existence, at least you get to look at it. Like, when you dreamed you’d wear Chanel for your Rehearsal Dinner and ended up wearing a $5 suit your Mom bought at an outlet the week before. Okay, maybe that’s not relevant but it feels good to vent.
Monday, October 26, 2015
Thank You for Help on Rushdie Talk
To the Editor:
The 13th Malloy Lecture in the Arts featuring internationally acclaimed author Salman Rushdie was an enormous success, bringing nearly 1,000 people together at Staples High School on Oct. 22 for an enlightening and entertaining evening with one of the greatest writers of our time.
As president of the Westport Library’s Board of Trustees, I am overwhelmed by the exemplary collaborative effort that made this special program possible.
I, along with the rest of the board, extend a huge thank you to school officials and town leaders, local and regional police and fire departments and Staples High School staff and students for diverting business as usual to accommodate the event.
We’ve heard many comments about the seamless efficiency of the program—from the time the doors opened to the expert traffic control at the end of the evening.
In addition, the event provided a special opportunity for a group of high school English students to hear personally from Mr. Rushdie, demonstrating the potential for libraries to connect people for unique learning experiences.
Specifically, we extend sincere thanks to:
The late Susan Malloy
Salman Rushdie and his publisher, Random House
Police Chief Dale Call and his team
Fire Marshall Edward Zygmant and his team
Jim Marpe, First Selectman
Elliot Landon, School Superintendent
Lisa Marriott, Dr. Landon’s office
Horace Lewis and his staff at Staples High School
Julie Heller, Staples English Department Chair
Kim Herzog, English Department
The SHS AP English Students
Colin Neenan and Tamara Weinberg, Staples Library Media Specialists
Francis Fiore and Braden Smith, lighting
Mike Phillis, Performance Audio
Tricia Tierney, Barnes & Noble
Colin Bloom, Terrain
Jen Albuck, Soda Man
President, Westport Library Board of Trustees
Sunday, October 11, 2015
Letter: Thank You Westport Fire Department
To the Editor:
We would like to express our heartfelt thanks and appreciation to the Westport Fire Department, Red Cross, and First Selectman Jim Marpe for their outstanding public service in response to a recent fire at our home.
On Friday, October 9 at about 9 p.m., we experienced an accidental fire at our home in Westport. Within minutes of our call, the Westport Fire Department arrived at the scene.
The firefighters worked quickly to extinguish the external flames and contain the damage. Once the fire was out, several firefighters cleaned up the water and other debris inside our house.
The Fire Warden went out of his way to explain the situation and allay our concerns. The firefighters were the height of professionalism—efficient, thorough, safety-conscious, and courteous. These guys are awesome!
Tuesday, August 25, 2015
Letter: Takes Issue With Story Citing Staples Enrollment
To the Editor:
Your story dated August 25, 2015 appears to be extremely misleading and lacks fact-based information. The headline “Already Over Crowded, Staples will get 100 more Students” is extremely misleading to your readers. This leaves the reasonable reader to believe Staples High School will get 100 more students this school year… And that the high school is in a crisis mode with no plan to deal with overcrowding.
The Facts are below:
In 10/1/2012 SHS had actual enrollment of 1,882 students
In 10/1/2013 SHS had actual enrollment of 1,837 students
In 10/1/2014 SHS had actual enrollment of 1,855 students
In 10/1/2015 SHA was forecasted to have enrollment of 1,888
Source: Board of Education Adopted Budget
The facts show that Staples High School enrollment is forecasted to be approximately the same level in 10/2015 as it was in 10/2012. Moreover, enrollment for SHS, as forecasted by the administration for 10/1/2015, is an additional 33 students vs prior year, not 100.
The numbers and the story do not add up.
Member, Westport Board of Education
(Editor’s note: the original story says Staples will have 100 more students than it can accommodate. It does not say 100 more students will enroll this fall, though the headline erroneously suggests that is the case. The headline and story have been updated. The story now notes Staples has been overcapacity for several years, but the 1,900 figure cited by Landon is the highest enrollment in recent years and is 45 more than last year.
Letter: Praises WestportNow Series on Senior Housing
To the Editor:
The Coalition for Westport (CFW) congratulates WestportNow for its outstanding series of articles on the lack of adequate senior housing in Westport. (Click here for series)
The series presented the history of the senior housing issue and the manner in which the Planning & Zoning Commission voted to change the zoning of the entire Baron’s South property to recreation/open space.
Our town, which is such a leader in creating and providing first class community amenities, has failed abysmally in looking after its seniors, a shocking indictment of the shortsightedness of those charged with the responsibility of ensuring that Westport welcomes and values residents of all ages.
The personal consequences of this lack of planning was highlighted by telling the stories of long-term residents who have been forced to leave Westport and find housing facilities in other towns. Many of our neighboring towns boast one or more such facilities.
Friday, July 31, 2015
Cinema Initiative Seeks Additional Funding
To the Editor:
Dear fellow Westporters:
If you want an independent movie theater in Westport, now is the moment to make your investment in our town.
The Westport Cinema Initiative, a volunteer-driven organization, is in a crucial place in its four-year history. I am writing as a member of the board of directors.
Four years ago we began a plan to build a publicly-supported cinema in Westport. This was made possible by the support of 39 angels contributing $1,000 each towards the idea and by about 200 charter members who have contributed $100 each. Today we are a recognized not-for-profit 501(C)3 organization and an integral part of Westport’s robust arts heritage and, importantly, the town’s Downtown Master Plan.
We have regularly screened movies in locations throughout downtown to raise awareness of our purpose. We have secured a fantastic spot in downtown for the theater – the last and best location imaginable. Our architect has drafted plans for the building. The town government has expressed its support. It is now time to build the theater.
To do this, we need the community’s support. Everyone who knows about us agrees the idea of a theater in Westport is wonderful. We need more Westporters – you – to make your enthusiasm real. We need $60,000 to take the next step to provide assurance that we can raise the remaining $4 million necessary to build the theater. Your tax-deductible contribution will help make this happen.
It is essential that we raise this $60,000 in very short order, else the entire project will come to a stop and the theater will almost certainly not come about. Our president, Jonathan Steinberg, or our executive director, Sandy Lefkowitz, or anyone on the board of directors is eager to chat with you about your support.
If you already know in your heart that adding this permanent arts resource in downtown Westport is valuable to you and your family, simply write a check to Westport Cinema Initiative and mail it to Sandy at 25 Island Way, Westport 06880.
Thank you very much,
Alex W White
Monday, June 22, 2015
No More Water for Kayaks?! Really?
To the Editor:
As a Westport resident for 20-plus years, I’ve enjoyed kayaking from Compo Beach where I keep my boat in a dry stall that I rent for $100+/per season.
In the past, the town maintained a hose with available water for cleaning the boats each time they came out of the Sound. However this year, the hose and any available water for boaters with dry stalls disappeared!
I went looking for a hose and found several new hoses with running water for the power boats and sail boats at Ned Dimes Marina. One of the boaters told me that the town diverted the water for the kayaks into drip lines/hoses
used exclusively for newly planted grass that was part of the “upgrade.”
What’s wrong with this picture? For starters, I paid $100+ for keeping my kayak at a location where I could both take it into the Sound and properly maintain it afterwards. I went home and got a huge bucket which I filled with water
from new hoses at the boat docks and carried the water several hundred yards to my kayak and washed it before putting it back on the rack.
I am all in favor of exercise, but lugging a bucket full of water because no water or hose was available near the kayak stalls was not part of the deal.
Please stop diverting the hose/water that over the years has been part of the boat launch area, so that us dry stallers can keep our kayaks free of corrosive salt without breaking our backs carrying water that should be readily available on site.
Tuesday, June 16, 2015
Westport Schools: Looking Back and Ahead
To the Editor:
The Year That’s Ending
The Westport schools are finishing an outstanding year on multiple fronts. Our students have earned achievements in math, science, language arts and writing, and their success outside of the classroom has been equally impressive. Three of our top administrators, including the superintendent, won awards for their leadership. And due to a budget surplus, we were able to invest an additional $500,000 in the continued maintenance of our schools.
Staples and Superintendent Searches
Westport is a very attractive district for education professionals, and we continue to hire the best people to work in and run our school system. The superintendent, who runs the process for and selects all principals, is seeking an interim principal for Staples for the next school year. The school administration can then take the time it needs to find the right permanent principal to lead our high school for many years.
The Board of Education hires one person: the superintendent. We have already begun speaking with firms to assist in the superintendent search. Early in the new school year, we will conduct outreach to the community to hear your ideas on the qualities you seek in the next superintendent. Your input will be important as we both recruit for and hire the next superintendent. We will continue to update you on our process and our progress.
The Year Ahead
The Board of Ed budget for next year passed without any cuts from our funders, allowing us to continue improving on our already-great school district. This means that we’ll have several new initiatives beginning in August, including an increase in the music program in Kindergarten, expansion of the professional development of our teachers and additional security personnel throughout the District. We also will have four exciting new courses at Staples, three of which are in science and computer science.
With change comes opportunity, and we are excited about all that lies ahead for the Westport schools. We wish everyone in the Westport community the best for a relaxing, rewarding summer.
Westport Board of Education
Michael Gordon, Chair
Jeannie Smith, Vice Chair
Elaine Whitney, Secretary
Friday, May 15, 2015
Letter: Temple Member Rebuts Protester’s Letter
To the Editor:
In response to Tuesday night’s letter by Gregory Williams, one of the two misguided young men who, whether they intended to or not, terrorized an event held at my synagogue,Temple Israel, I would like to state the following for consideration by your readers:
First, the jurist Oliver Wendell Holmes has been famously quoted to say that “a man’s right to swing his fist freely through the air ends where another man’s nose begins.” In an astonishingly immature display of arrogance, Mr. Williams avers that, after entering the premises and reaching the second floor “We [told Temple staff] that we had come to read a statement from a Palestinian woman at the FIDF event, and that we would leave voluntarily when we were done, or when we were ordered to do so by a police officer.”
With all due respect, the premises of my Temple are not public property where Mr. Williams and his companion are at liberty to do whatever they deem fit, including exercising their right to free speech. I appreciate that, as a Jew, he is welcome to enter a Jewish house of worship, especially this one, in order to pursue a desire to worship according to our faith and commune with other people of our faith.
But he needs an invitation in order to express his unwelcome political viewpoints and should have deferred to the authority of Temple staff when told that he was acting inappropriately in the context that he was. For him to claim a right to be allowed to complete his objective or only leave when told to do so by the police, betrays a complete disregard of the laws of trespass.
Wednesday, May 13, 2015
Letter: New Haven Man Explains Temple Israel Actions
To the Editor:
Our apologies, good friends, for the fracture of good order, the burning of paper instead of children; the angering of the orderlies in the front parlor of the charnal house. We could not, so help us God, do otherwise, for we are sick at heart; our hearts give us no rest for thinking of the Land of Burning children.
- Daniel Berrigan, S.J., 1968
At around 1 p.m. on Tuesday, 12 May, my colleague, Dan Fischer, and I calmly walked into into Temple Israel, where the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces was holding a lunchtime meeting. So as to appear as non-threatening as possible, we had no bags, no literature—I had even left the small pocketknife I usually carry at home.
We were armed only with a written testimony by Nabila Abu Halima, a Palestinian woman who lives in the Gaza strip, who watched her son be murdered by the IDF during Operation Cast Lead, and who had to flee her home during last year’s Gaza massacre.
Our intention was simple: to read the statement at the FIDF’s meeting, which was hosting a brigadier general in the occupying, colonizing army that is responsible for her suffering, and the suffering of so many other indigenous Palestinian women.
Letter: Panic Inside Temple Israel
To the Editor:
Since 1994, the United Nations General Assembly has condemned terrorist acts using the following political description of terrorism: “Criminal acts intended or calculated to provoke a state of terror in the general public, a group of persons or particular persons for political purposes are in any circumstance unjustifiable, whatever the considerations of a political, philosophical, ideological, racial, ethnic, religious or any other nature that may be invoked to justify them.”
As over 100 women and several men sat peaceably Tuesday at Temple Israel enjoying lunch and ready to listen to the planned discussion, loud clamoring and yelling which turned to pounding and screaming began by the door to the room. We looked over and saw—through the glass cutout in the door—a large figure appearing to be wearing head garb trying to enter the room.
Everyone around me panicked. My heart sank lower than I had ever thought possible and my instinct was to get as far away from that door as possible. Thoughts of Sandy Hook, Columbine and Paris flooded my mind as I tried to remember/determine, within seconds, whether I would be killed more readily by hiding in one of the many classrooms within the building or attempting to escape it.
Instinct again wanted me out of that building. But after running through the hallways and down the stairs, and opening the exit door to the outside, I saw a vast, rambling shaped parking lot ahead and I felt certain that more terrorists would be waiting outside to harm those attempting to flee.