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Saturday, February 25, 2017



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.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Letter: Thank You to Public Works Image
To the Editor: Thank you Westport Department of Public Works for the job it does in removing snow from our streets. Just one block away from my home (and one town away-Norwalk) the roads are treacherous. — Pipa Bell Ader, Westport (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Photo by Pippa Bell Ader

Posted 10:29 AM
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Friday, November 11, 2016

Letter: More Taxes Next Year for CT Residents

To the Editor:

In a recent memo to the agency heads in Connecticut from Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s Budget Director Benjamin Barnes, he details his projections for the upcoming fiscal budget in 2018 (July 1, 2017-June 30, 2018).  These projections show a deficit of over $1.1 billion. Based on information I was able to find, the budget deficit will be much higher.

Driving the huge upcoming budget deficit is significant growth in fixed costs the state cannot avoid. The increase comes from rising costs in debt service, teacher pension plan, state employee fringe benefits and OPEB, Medicaid and other entitlements and pay increases forecasted for the new collective bargaining agreement. 

Adding to the upcoming deficit, the budget director is also forecasting a drop in state revenue, due to the continuing decline in Connecticut state income tax receipts.  His total projected budget deficit starting July 1, 2017 is $1.162 billion.

However, based on several recently published reports, the upcoming budget deficit will be much higher than the budget director’s projections. Just last week, in a new actuarial analysis of Connecticut’s teacher pension plan, state contributions need to increase by an additional $47 million more than what is in the budget director’s projection. 

More "Letter: More Taxes Next Year for CT Residents"

Posted 07:07 PM
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Sunday, September 18, 2016

Letter: ‘We Have to Change Our Attitude as a Community’

To the Editor:

Last Wednesday, I dropped my kid off at Staples High School at 7:25 a.m. and headed for the Merritt. The traffic has been extra heavy due to the construction at Cross Highway and Compo Road North, so when I turned onto Weston Road I was in bumper to bumper stop and go traffic. 

Gazing into the Audi convertible in front of me, I realized that there were moving images on the GPS display. I looked more carefully and saw that the driver had his cell phone propped up in the display area and was live streaming a talk show to watch while “driving.” 

Sitting there in traffic, I watched the eyes of the Audi driver in his rear view mirror and he was barely glancing at the road: so much so that when the car in front of him took his turn at the stop sign, the Audi driver coasted right through behind almost getting t-boned by the car from Main Street, who had the right of way.

Even more alarming is that the Audi driver got on to the Merritt, pulled into the left lane and sped away.  I prayed that he got to his destination safely and without hurting anyone else.

More "Letter: ‘We Have to Change Our Attitude as a Community’"

Posted 10:04 PM
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Wednesday, September 07, 2016

Letter: Backs Westport Contractor in Norwalk Dispute

To the Editor:

Today I attended a rally in Norwalk in support of A. J. Penna & Son. The Pennas own a third-generation family business that employs 50 people. They are emergency contractors who serve CL&P, Aquarion Water, and the towns of Norwalk and Westport, among others.

The CT Department of Transportation wants to replace the 120-year old Walk Railroad Bridge in Norwalk at a cost of roughly $1 billion.

As part of the plan, they want to take the Penna property as well as the property of 16 others, by eminent domain. 

The price being offered as compensation to the Pennas is virtually nothing. Alternatives to this costly plan are being dismissed out of hand. The Pennas’ small but strategically vital business is being threatened.

More "Letter: Backs Westport Contractor in Norwalk Dispute"

Posted 02:57 PM
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Saturday, August 27, 2016

Letter: Unhappy With Sound Levels at Levitt

To the Editor:

Growing up in Westport, we took vacations with Mortimer Levitt and his family.  He was an honorable and gracious man who loved Westport, hence his gift of the music pavilion.

Unfortunately, his dream has failed to manifest, particularly since the redesign, the way he’d envisioned. And Mortimer would roll over in his grave of he were a half mile away as I am tonight.

Families have had to check into hotels because they couldn’t get their kids to bed. When I along with two others who reside in downtown Westport met with the first selectman, chief of police, the man who runs the soundboard at the Levitt, and the two women who administer the Levitt, they promised to monitor the noise level. We told them all that story of families faced with an untenable situation.

The administrators said they’d not yet acquired the decibel monitor, and I shared with them an app on my phone which does just that. This summer new guidelines were instituted. Supposedly. Those guidelines and monitoring should have happened from the day the Levitt opened.

More "Letter: Unhappy With Sound Levels at Levitt"

Posted 10:02 PM
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Thursday, August 18, 2016

Letter: Developer’s Letter Re Center St. ‘Inaccurate’

Editor’s note: this letter is in response to one by Robert Haroun published on Aug. 15. (See WestportNow Aug. 15, 2016)

To the Editor:

The Historic District Commission (HDC) has worked successfully with Rob Haroun of SIR Development on a number of successful preservation efforts and he has been the recipient of Historic Preservation awards from our annual program. Image
This house at 21[-25] Center St. is scheduled for demolition. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for

The HDC worked diligently with Mr. Haroun and his architect, Mr. William Achilles, to refine and encourage the adoption of their amendment No. 711 to Supplementary Use Regulation 32-18 intended to encourage the preservation of historic residential structures, to permit them to subdivide a non-conforming property to establish a third lot and to save one historic house.

Mr. Haroun has written a letter to the editor published in WestportNow that inaccurately describes the outcome of the latest review of his plan to redevelop the property at 21 Center St. 

That review was conducted by the Joint Committee of the HDC and the Architectural Review Board (ARB) as required by the Zoning Ordinance, not the ARB alone. That Joint Committee is made up of three representatives of the ARB and three of the HDC. 

More "Letter: Developer’s Letter Re Center St. ‘Inaccurate’"

Posted 04:59 PM
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Monday, August 15, 2016

Letter: Developer Says Nothing to Show for ‘Good Intentions’

To the Editor:

I have lived in Westport for 25 years and am president of SIR Development, LLC a new construction luxury home builder. I have noted that historic structures and their place in this town have been a constant debate. Image
This house at 25 Center St. was the subject of lengthy negotiations with developer Rob Haroun and the town. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for

During this time, hundreds of older homes have been demolished to make room for larger ones leaving a small inventory of older structures that retain the character of yesteryear. Some efforts have been made to create incentive programs for saving these structures through the existing 32–18 zoning regulations, but clearly the existing regulations fall short.

After seeing that 32-18 was deficient, we embarked on an effort to amend Section 32-18. With a specific property in mind, 25 Center St., we saw an opportunity to save an historic structure and provide a win-win for both the town and preservationists.

Knowing that the process was quite protracted, we proceeded in good faith with the town and the community to accomplish this goal.

More "Letter: Developer Says Nothing to Show for ‘Good Intentions’"

Posted 06:45 PM
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Letter: Longshore Assistant Golf Pro Says Goodbye

To the Editor:

After 17 great seasons at Longshore Club Park, my wife and I have decided it’s time to move out of state.  I want to thank all my dedicated golf students for their loyal support.

I would publicly thank the longtime head and new PGA Master Professional, John Cooper, for his faith in me.  John, I learned so much from you about teaching and the golf business I never would have received elsewhere.

The staff John has assembled to represent Longshore, the cashiers, starters, and rangers are the best and most professional I have ever worked with and do a thankless job cheerfully.  A round of golf at Longshore flows so well due to a team effort.

Longshore golfers,  John and the staff have your best interests at heart. Trust in them today and down the road.

Best wishes.

Christopher Carriero
Longshore Golf Professional

Posted 07:37 AM
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Thursday, August 04, 2016

Letter: Don’t Blame GOPers for Transportation Woes

To the Editor:

In a recent opinion piece, lawmakers were blamed for the deep budget cuts impacting transportation and increasing Metro-North fares. (Talking Transportation: Don’t Blame Malloy for the Fare Hikes, WestportNow, Aug. 1, 2016)

That blame is half misplaced.

You see, the op-ed wrongly grouped Democrat and Republican lawmakers together, and failed to recognize the stark differences in our approaches to improving transportation in Connecticut. 

The Democrats sat back and decimated our state’s Special Transportation Fund for years by taking transportation money to balance their ill-conceived budgets. The Republicans want to make transportation a priority.

More "Letter: Don’t Blame GOPers for Transportation Woes"

Posted 01:55 PM

Poetic Tribute to Oscar’s Owner

To the Editor:

Editor’s note: the author wrote this poem to Lee Papageorge, owner of Oscar’s, which closed on Aug. 1.

What genuine joy and endless glee,
You gave with your iconic restaurant – Oscar’s deli –
To Westporters, ‘out of towners’, those from N.Y.C.,
To so many others …
Decades of the W.F.D., W.P.D., town employees,
And generations of families,
From kids of all ages, fathers, and mothers,

Extraordinary sandwiches, food, drinks, desserts,
Oh - so fine, each time,
And topped off with priceless memories.
This will never be surpassed – or ever be beat,
On downtown’s ‘Main Street’.

Year after year, for those people
‘On the go’, and did not know –
You gave ‘the community’ more and more –
Always with such loving kindness, Lee,
From your legendary store for free,
With charitable contributions of your food,
That was delicious, nutritious and galore.

When God made you, he broke the mold,
Mr. Papageorge – your heart’s made of gold,
For all of your giving
Teaching by example, each day,
How ‘we all should be living’.

I give you thanks,
Praise, and three cheers,
For providing the town with Oscar’s,
Forty two glorious years!

May you find God’s love in each day,
By those who now help you along your way.
Sending you special prayers,
For healing and fortitude,
With my kindest regards and sincerest¬ gratitude.

Annie Fasanella          

Posted 11:49 AM
(0) CommentsPermalink

Monday, August 01, 2016

Letter: Praise for ‘Incredible’ Sherwood Island Lifeguards

Editor’s note: The writer of the following letter requested anonymity and while we do not normally publish anonymous letters, the reason for making an exception in this case will be clear.

To the Editor:

I would like to take a minute to give some credit where I think it’s due. In our profession, we get to see a lot of heroic acts by fellow firefighters, police officers and other emergency personnel where they are given either awards or public praise for their actions. Image
Sherwood Island State Park lifeguards in the water during Sunday’s rescue operation. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for

Sometimes though, I feel it’s the ones who maybe aren’t in the public eye as often that can be left out—specifically the lifeguards who keep watch over and protect our beaches. 

Late yesterday afternoon, we received a call for multiple drowning victims at Sherwood Island State Park. My company was the the first fire department unit to arrive on scene. Two victims had been rescued by another beach goer.

A third victim was still reported to be in the water. Needless to say, the scene was chaotic.

More "Letter: Praise for ‘Incredible’ Sherwood Island Lifeguards"

Posted 03:35 PM
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Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Letter: Thanks From Stamford Health

To the Editor:

After 21 years, I am both honored and humbled that the community continues to rally around those who have been touched by cancer by supporting the Bennett Cancer Center’s annual Walk & Run. As the signature event for Hope in Motion, our year-round fundraising initiative, the Walk & Run gives families and friends a way to honor and remember loved ones. On Sunday, June 5, more than 4,800 community members, including many from Westport, braved the intermittent rain showers to participate in the event. To date, we have raised more than $824,000, 82 percent of our $1 million fundraising goal.

These funds go directly towards programs and services that benefit our patients and their families, such as: nutritional counseling; a post-treatment exercise program; integrative medicine (yoga, reiki, massage); patient transportation services; individual, family and group counseling; and survivorship programs. As the director of the Bennett Cancer Center, I witness every day the life-changing impact that these services have on our patients and their families.

On behalf of everyone at Stamford Health’s Bennett Cancer Center, I would like to thank our generous sponsors, event organizers, committee members and volunteers for their ongoing and tireless dedication and hard work. We could not do it without you!

From the bottom of our hearts, we are ever grateful for all that you do and for showing us what it truly means to put “hope in motion.”

See you all next year!

Liz Manfredo
Director, Bennett Cancer Center
Stamford Health

Posted 11:30 AM
(0) CommentsPermalink

Letter: BOE Issues End of School Year Report

To the Editor:

The Westport school district has just completed its most impactful year in a generation. Starting July 1, our two important new hires will begin their leadership posts: Dr. Colleen Palmer as superintendent and Mr. James D’Amico as principal of Staples.  Both have significant experience as academic leaders and will foster continuous improvement in our already-strong school district.

Connecting with Our Community

Stay tuned for a calendar of upcoming opportunities this summer and fall for members of the community to meet our new superintendent, Dr. Palmer. She is planning a host of informal coffees, meetings, and gatherings at which she would enjoy hearing perspectives on what is cherished most about our district and what are areas that might be explored for further enhancement. We encourage everyone to participate in one of these events and personally welcome our new superintendent.

Guiding Principles

Starting next year, our schools will be guided by four principles that embody the values we aspire to for our students and ourselves: social and emotional awareness, kindness with sincerity, principled in thought and action, and learning always. Known as the “Guiding Principles,” these are ways of being that will make up the fabric of everything we do in Kindergarten through 12th grade both in and out of the classroom. Having these clearly articulated guiding principles truly sets Westport apart in giving our children proven skills needed to succeed long after they graduate. 

New for Next Year

The budget we developed for next year saw the leanest increase in many years - and yet we are making many program improvements. Starting in September, Staples will introduce nine new courses across multiple subject areas. Each elementary school will have a half-time science coach and dedicated laboratory, further enhancing our commitment to that discipline. We also are incorporating new elements of strategic planning that align our budget closely with longer-term goals.  We want to thank our administrators who put together a budget that moved us forward academically while remaining fiscally disciplined. We also want to thank our outstanding teachers and staff who meet our mission for Westport’s children each day.

More "Letter: BOE Issues End of School Year Report"

Posted 10:43 AM
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Wednesday, June 01, 2016

Letter: Thanks After a Fall

To the Editor:

We want to thank our fellow beach people, the lifeguards police, EMS for their concern and aid when my husband fell on his way to the beach this past weekend.

Everyone was so kind and helpful.

Thank you very much. 

Gene and Roslyn Gans

Posted 02:40 PM
(0) CommentsPermalink

Friday, May 27, 2016

Letter: Thanks P&Z Commission and Staff

To the Editor:

I would like to take the opportunity to thank the Westport Planning and Zoning Commission and Planning Director Steve Palmer and his staff for all of their hard work and efforts to help save the character and heritage of our town.

My wife Julie and I have lived in Westport for 24 years and during this time we raised our three children and built our business. We have always appreciated the unique nature of Westport and tried to help retain the character that makes Westport a special place that it is. Image
This 1782-built house on Center Street was saved by a text amendment. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for

We recently submitted a zoning amendment, along with our architect Bill Achilles to save a house built in 1782 on Center Street. The neighbors rallied behind us along with the help of many departments in town including Historic District Chairman Francis Henkels and Coordinator Carol Leahy. As we all know everything changes but it is how we manage the change that matters.  It was the diligence and forward thinking planning of the Planning and Zoning Commission that will enable us to save the antique house.

We hope that the amendment that we initiated will encourage builders and homeowners throughout the town to save historic buildings and maintain the unique and wonderful history of Westport.

Robert Haroun
SIR Development, LLC

Posted 12:00 PM
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