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.
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!
Director, Bennett Cancer Center
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.
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.
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
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.
This 1782-built house on Center Street was saved by a text amendment. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com
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.
SIR Development, LLC
Friday, May 20, 2016
Letter: ‘Outrage’ Over Fireworks Date
To the Editor:
We wanted to express our outrage and disappointment to PAL for choosing June 30 for the fireworks. It is a Thursday night with people having work the following day. We usually host a party of nearly 110-120 people and already have 20-30 cancellations right off the bat. PAL will be the loser and we are very sorry to see that happen. Everyone we have spoken to is just as disappointed as we are.
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