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Thursday, March 30, 2017

Letters

Letters

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.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Letter: Town ‘Remains Committed’ to Providing Excellent First Responder Pensions

(Editor’s note: The following letter is in response to one earlier today from the wife of a Westport firefighter who, in turn, was responding to a letter from Board of Finance members.)

To the Editor:

The Town of Westport respects the important and challenging role that its firefighters play in keeping our citizens safe.

Unfortunately, in the face of recent, unprecedented increases in pension and retiree health insurance costs in recent years, the town had to ask the fire union to consider adjustments to several pension provisions that appear to go beyond what is typically found in a municipal fire pension. 

At the same time, the fire union also sought enhancements to its pension. After months of negotiations, the town and fire union were unable to reach agreement.

More "Letter: Town ‘Remains Committed’ to Providing Excellent First Responder Pensions"

Posted 07:59 PM
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Letter: Response to BOF Members Letter Re BOE Budget

Dear Board of Finance Members:

I’ve read your letter dated March 26 posted on WestportNow.com. I am … it’s hard to put into words. Disgusted? Confused? Disheartened? Although perhaps not for the reasons you would hope to have accomplished by publishing this letter.

I agree that Westport residents should not have to pay for the mistakes made by the state. That being said, do the Westport residents know the whole picture of what else is going on in our town? “Education” is a big trigger word for this town, for myself as well.

I have a child in the Westport Public School system, and am disheartened every year by budget cuts. I would get into the details regarding those disappointments, but that isn’t what this letter is about.

Do the residents realize what is happening with our local first responders? Do they know that this town, with all it claims to offer, is asking that the new contract for our first responders cancel benefits to their families in case of a line of duty death? And this is only one of many items listed.

More "Letter: Response to BOF Members Letter Re BOE Budget"

Posted 11:43 AM
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Sunday, March 26, 2017

Letter: BOF Members Say Tell State Westport Is Not Its Piggy Bank

(Editor’s note: The following letter is from six Board of Finance members. Member John Hartwell decided not to participate)

Dear Westport Resident:

Westport has worked hard to prudently manage its finances and tax base. All branches of our town government, many elected officials and volunteers, have worked collaboratively, on behalf of all residents, to ensure we have a high quality of life at a cost all residents and businesses can afford. Sadly, maintaining this balance will be more difficult in the future.   

Today we are faced with grim economic news from the State of Connecticut. This is not a one-off problem and it will continue for years to come. Because of our state government’s inability to manage its budget and to control spending resulting in a projected deficit of over $1.5 billion next year alone, Westport finds itself in a difficult position.

Instead of tackling a state government that has grown too large and too expensive for the residents of Connecticut, the state is largely trying to solve its budget problems by shifting costs to towns. 

First, the state is decreasing or totally eliminating payments it has made to Westport for either education or other services which equals $3 million-$4 million in 2018 alone. We assume this revenue from the state, which directly supplemented our operating budgets, is permanently gone.

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Posted 11:10 AM
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Friday, February 10, 2017

Letter: Thank You to Public Works

WestportNow.com 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.

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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.

WestportNow.com Image
This house at 21[-25] Center St. is scheduled for demolition. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

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.

WestportNow.com 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 WestportNow.com

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
Westport

Posted 07:37 AM
(0) CommentsPermalink

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
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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          
Westport

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.

WestportNow.com Image
Sherwood Island State Park lifeguards in the water during Sunday’s rescue operation. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

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
Stamford

Posted 11:30 AM
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