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Thursday, May 28, 2015



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, 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.

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Posted 01:32 PM
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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. 

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Posted 10:10 PM
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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. 

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Posted 10:42 AM
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Friday, May 08, 2015

Coalition Thanks 20 RTMers in Baron’s South Vote

To the Editor:

The Coalition for Westport (CFW) wishes to thank those 20 RTM Members who accepted the unanimous findings of the entire RTM P&Z Committee, and had the vision and understanding to vote to overturn the Planning & Zoning decision on Baron’s South. 

While the vote fell four votes shy of the two-thirds required to reverse the P&Z decision, a very high hurdle, a majority of the RTM clearly felt the P&Z overstepped its bounds.

The Coalition’s petition was brought because the actions of the P&Z did not represent good government practice and did not reflect well on the Town of Westport.

The RTM P&Z Committee came to the same conclusion. CFW has, since its inception, advocated for open discussion and a full airing of views on all issues affecting our town.

The Coalition is a strong proponent of open space as are many of those RTM members who voted to overturn the P&Z decision, and the RTM P&Z Committee members.

Their votes recognized that the ends do not always justify the means. Good government is a shared treasure for Westporters and takes precedence over the goal of any single issue.
Hopefully that message is clear regardless of the final tally. Voters will have an opportunity to voice their views on restoring integrity to the process at the ballot box in November’s election. 

Jo Ann Davidson,
Secretary & Lead Petitioner, Coalition for Westport

Denise Torve
Chairperson, Coalition for Westport

Posted 12:55 PM
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Sunday, May 03, 2015

Save Westport Now Supports Senior Housing Initiative

To the Editor:

This past Tuesday the Planning and Zoning Commission’s designation of the Baron’s South property as open space was upheld. The decision by the P&Z and the RTM wisely adds Baron’s South to the small roster of open spaces left in town.

Because of this decision, residents will be able to enjoy this precious and unique space for generations.

This decision, however, also compels a new initiative for the town to actively explore options and opportunities to increase the stock of senior and affordable housing in Westport. Save Westport Now continues to support these efforts.

Save Westport Now has volunteered to participate with the First Selectman and his designees in this important process. We believe that public/private solutions can be achieved and acknowledge and support First Selectman Jim Marpe’s immediate response to form a new initiative for this purpose.

Jeff Block
Save Westport Now

Posted 06:08 PM
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Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Coalition Applaus RTM P&Z Committee Action

To the Editor:

The Coalition for Westport (CFW) applauds the decision this week of the RTM Planning & Zoning Committee to recommend overturning the P&Z Commission’s decision to zone Baron’s South as dedicated open space.

The Coalition appreciates that the committee agreed with the Coalition and other petitioners that the process of reaching this decision was seriously flawed and the decision impacted negatively, not only on the potential use of the 22-acre property but also, on the future needs of the heavily utilized Senior Center.

The Coalition urges RTM members to follow the Committee’s recommendation and overturn the decision so that an application for a revised proposal for senior housing on the site can be heard.

The Coalition strongly supports a compromise solution to this heated discussion with a senior housing complex created on 3.3+/- acres and the remaining 18+/- acres be devoted to safe and accessible municipal space.

Denise Torve
Chairperson, Coalition for Westport

Posted 10:41 PM
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Thursday, April 09, 2015

Coalition for Westport on RTM P&Z Committee Meeting

To the Editor:

The first of two meetings of the Representative Town Meeting’s Planning & Zoning Committee was held on April 6 to determine if the committee should recommend that the RTM overturn the P&Z decision to rezone Baron’s South property as open space. Amid considerable misinformation the need for correction and clarification is necessary.

Chip Stephens, P&Z chairman, made numerous unsubstantiated statements claiming, for example that it was “certain” that if Baron’s South was not designated open space, the senior housing project would continue to be debated for another 10 years. Sheer speculation or a veiled threat to withhold action on the senior housing proposal?

Without even having heard or seen the revised housing plan he characterized it as “half baked.” Neither the Baron’s South Committee nor the developer was given the opportunity to make a presentation of the plan.

Although Stephens argued that senior housing would remove “all open space” from Baron’s South, every petitioner made the point that a compromise was available, namely 3.3 acres for housing and 16+/- acres for open space on the 22-acre site. 

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Posted 12:31 PM
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Friday, April 03, 2015

Restore Transit District Funding

To the Editor:

On behalf of the Westport Citizens Transit Committee (CTC), I would like to strongly encourage the restoration of the Westport Transit District (WTD) funds initially requested in the First Selectman’s 2015 budget request. Our Committee feels that these funds are essential to enabling the Transit Directors to fulfill their mission and the promise of safe, affordable, effective and convenient transportation within and around Westport.

WTD is not simply about shuttle buses but about addressing the chronic and critical transportation issues of traffic congestion, limited parking, pedestrian safety, air pollution and even business and citizen productivity in and around Westport. In a CTC Interim Transportation Report issued in January, 2013, the CTC highlighted these issues and our recommendations specifically called for dedicating town resources and funding for transportation-expertise and marketing. We stand by these recommendations.

We applaud First Selectman Marpe’s committed efforts to work with our Transit Directors to address the day to day town transportation challenges, discuss transportation policies and for his support for the WTD during this budget process. As a town, we need to build on his transportation leadership and vision.

Transportation in Westport is a 24/7 reality that directly affects our daily quality of life and business in and around Westport. Our town needs the skilled and full time attention of a transportation professional and funds to effectively communicate and engage with Westport’s diverse community of administrators, citizens and businesses as well as Federal, State and Transit agencies who provide grants, services and funding for transportation systems like the one in Westport.

Let’s make a smart and continued investment of our resources and budget to address the growing challenge of transportation in Westport and in our surrounding region. Restoring the WTD funds is an important step in the right direction. Restore the WTD funds.

Jim Ross
Westport Citizens Transit Committee

Posted 05:06 PM
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Sunday, March 15, 2015

Coalition for Westport Critical of P&Z

To the Editor:

The Coalition for Westport fears that the senior housing project on Baron’s South is on life support and may not survive if the P&Z Commission has its way. 

At last Thursday’s commission meeting, the P&Z scheduled a hearing on its text amendment 687 to rezone Baron’s South as dedicated Open Space and Recreation District. Should this be approved, the property will no longer be available for development of any kind and the eight-year project to establish senior housing on the site will be over. 

This is happening even though a revised application for the senior housing project was submitted by the developers just last month and has not yet had a public hearing. 

The Coalition questions the decision on the timing of the open space proposal even as a pre-application review for senior housing on that space has been submitted and is pending. Why is the P&Z rushing ahead with its open space initiative? What’s the hurry?

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Posted 11:32 PM
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Monday, March 02, 2015

SBAC Testing and Your Parental Rights

To the Editor:

As you are aware, SBAC (Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium) testing will begin in the Westport Public Schools later this month.  This letter is not to debate the appropriateness of this testing or to influence your personal decision, but to inform you of your rights as parents. 

Despite Connecticut superintendents having been warned to stop harassing parents who seek to fulfill their constitutionally guaranteed right to protect their children, last week an email was sent to Westport School District parents from our superintendent stating the following:


This email was both forceful and misleading.  To be clear: There is no federal or state law, regulation or policy that prohibits a parent or guardian from opting his or her children out of these tests.  The former Commissioner of Education, Stefan Pryor, on March 14, 2014 stated in a videotaped hearing in Hartford that there is no consequence to students if they opt-out of SBAC testing. 

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Friday, February 27, 2015

Give Where You Live with Fairfield County Giving Day

To the Editor:

March 5 is Fairfield County’s second-annual online Giving Day, and I’m writing to encourage my neighbors and friends to participate. The goal is to raise $1 million in 24 hours through online donations for approximately 400 local nonprofit organizations.

Presented by Fairfield County Community Foundation with Bank of America as the lead sponsor, Giving Day encourages us all to “give where you live.” Last year, more than 9,000 people donated over $750,000 to 267 nonprofits serving Fairfield County – in 24 hours! This year, we can do even better.

Whether you give $10, $100 or even $1,000, you’ll be helping to support the work of organizations making a real difference in the community – and helping them compete for cash prizes and matching funds. Giving is fast and easy through the secure website, and anyone age 18 or older may donate between 12 a.m. to 11:59 p.m. on March 5.

Our local nonprofits feed the hungry, shelter the homeless, give books to children, train the unemployed for new jobs, protect our environment, and more. But they need our support to continue strengthening the communities we call home.

Whatever your favorite cause, I hope you’ll join me in supporting Fairfield County Giving Day 2015!

Michael Lubell
Mortgage Loan Specialist, Bank of America,

Posted 03:05 PM
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Thursday, February 19, 2015

Coalition for Westport Supports New Baron’s South Plan

To The Editor:

The Coalition for Westport strongly supports the new plan for senior housing on the Baron’s South property. 

The plan is still at an early stage, but it’s vital that it go forward, especially because it provides for 60 percent affordability in its residential units and advances the Town’s points to prevent more 8-30g projects. 

Because the new proposal provides more open space than the original did, we strongly urge the Planning & Zoning Commission to delay its plan to make the entire property open space until our Town boards have had an opportunity to consider the new proposal.

Denise Torve, Chairperson,
Coalition for Westport

Posted 04:15 PM
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Wednesday, January 28, 2015

‘Fabulous Job’ on Snow Cleanup

To the Editor:

I would like to congratulate the Town of Westport and everyone involved in the snow cleanup.

By yesterday afternoon the roads were completely clear!!! I could even drive down side roads with no problem.

They did a fabulous job and should know that we appreciate all their efforts, especially considering the conditions under which they were working.

Andree Brooks,

Posted 01:46 PM
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Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Thanks From Probate Judge

To the Editor:

Dear Fellow Westporter,

Thank you so much for coming out in such high numbers to give me your vote of confidence as your Probate Judge. I so appreciate it.

Please stop by on a Tuesday, Nov. 11 at 7:30 p.m. at Town Hall in Westport, Room 100, to learn a little about an area of law that we cover in our court. I love to teach, and it gives me a good excuse to meet you.

If you would like to subscribe to our newsletter, just send me an email at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

I am extremely grateful and humbled by your support. I will do my best to earn the trust you have placed in me.

Thank you again.

Lisa Wexler
Probate Judge

Posted 11:56 PM
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Thursday, September 25, 2014

Proud Member of Compo ‘Flash Mob’

To the Editor:

In the Westport News recent article announcing the review of proposals for Compo Beach, they reported that committee member, Skip Lane, referred to the vocal, outspoken Westporters who do not agree with some of the proposals as “the same flash mob” who sometimes disrupted the committee workshops.

I am a proud member of that “flash mob” and I resent being labelled this way. Mr. Lane should realize we are part of an active, intelligent, community minded group who turn out to let our views be known before definite lines are drawn which don’t necessarily represent the majority will of our Westport community.

We do not want our parking on the beach disturbed. We like our small town beach and its foibles and imperfections. Do we want bathrooms on South Beach - yes we do. Do we want a little shade pavilion, with seating for shade (and no other frills) yes we do. Do we want our committee members to listen to us and respond intelligently, even if they are not in accord with us, yes we do. 

If Mr Lane does not like the heat, he should stay out of the kitchen. His inappropriate comments make this “flash mob” member wonder at his fitness to be on this important committee.  I hope all interested and vocal “flash mobbers” and other Westporters will attend the Sept. 29 Town Hall meeting to express their views. I think this is called democracy in action, is it not?

Doris Forest

Posted 03:29 PM
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