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Thursday, December 15, 2016

Comings & Goings: Sperry Closing on Main St. Image
Sperry Top-Sider, a shoes and casual apparel store at 56 Main St., is closing next month after two and a half years in the location. No reason was given for the closure. When the store opened in April 2014, it was the only one in the state that was standalone. Shoppers are being offered 60 percent off on all merchandise with all sales final.  (CLICK TO ENLARGE) photo

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Friday, December 09, 2016

Malloy, Unions Strike Pension Deal

By Keith M. Phaneuf

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy today announced a deal with state employee unions that would allow Connecticut to dodge a fiscal iceberg by holding down annual pension costs otherwise set to spike over the next 16 years.

But to get that relief, Connecticut would shift at least $13.8 billion in estimated pension expenses owed before 2032 onto a future generation.

Under the deal, the state still would pay hefty pension bills for the next 16 years, with annual costs rising from $1.6 billion to $2.2 billion over that period. But pension expenses that were supposed to drop as low as $300 million per year after 2032 would hover close to $1.7 billion in the 2030s and 2040s.

The plan does not affect benefit levels for current or future retirees, nor does it change workers’ pension contributions.

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Monday, December 05, 2016

Land Swap Dropped: ‘Economics Just Didn’t Work’

By James Lomuscio

The highly touted Elm Street land swap that would have netted the town nine additional parking spaces and have been a boon to the downtown and the Bedford Square project was scrapped last week for economic reasons, developer David Waldman said today. Image
Under the scrapped plan, this building housing the Villa Del Sol Restaurant at 35 Elm St. would have been razed and swapped for part of the town-owned parking lot across the street. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for

“The economics just didn’t work for me, and as a developer I had to let it go,” said Waldman, principal of David Adam Realty who is heading up the nearby Bedford Square Project.

Waldman’s plan to put up a $7 million building on a piece of the town’s Baldwin Parking Lot at 36 Elm St. in exchange for property he had an option to buy at 35 Elm St. across the road had been supported by First Selectman Jim Marpe.

Pitched as the last leg in the revitalization of the downtown, the planned land swap received a positive report from the Planning and Zoning Commission (P&Z) at its Sept. 29 meeting. (See WestportNow Sept. 29, 2016)

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Staples Students Build Tesla App

By Ellery Saluck

An Advanced Placement (AP) computer science project seems poised to pay off big for two Staples High School entrepreneurs. Image
Neal Soni (l) and Dylan Diamond with a Tesla they can control from their too. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Ellery Saluck for

Junior Neal Soni and senior Dylan Diamond have created their very own app called Tesla Toolbox. It allows owners of the electric car Tesla to track their speed, route and power usage.

It also lets them control features like lights, the locking and unlocking car doors, the opening and closing garage doors, even climate control.

Users can also start their Tesla or drive it forward or backward without being in it, but with the mere touch of a iPhone.

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Saturday, December 03, 2016

Sampling the Food Image
Paul Lebowitz (r) of Westport enjoys some of the offerings at a reception tonight marking the opening of A.S Fine Foods, 361 Post Road West.  The takeout-only business offers up a variety of prepared foods, including fresh meats from Vincent Market in the Bronx’s Arthur Avenue. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) photo

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Gallery: Update on Bedford Square

A look at progress on the Bedford Square project in Westport’s center. The development around the former Westport Weston Family YMCA is mixed use retail, residential, and offices. Anthropologie is the anchor tenant, occupying 40,000 square feet on two floors in the main building. Its space will include a restaurant, Amis Trattoria, a Philadelphia-based restaurant group owned by Urban Outfitters, parent company of Anthropologie. The residential space includes apartments with views overlooking Elm Street and Church Lane. Completion is scheduled for April 2017. photos

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Friday, December 02, 2016

Comings & Goings: Rye Ridge Deli to Oscar’s Space

Westport’s Main Street is getting a Deli back. Rye Ridge Deli will open next year in space long occupied by Oscar’s Delicatessen, 159 Main St. Image
Partners Mike Ventorino (l) and Scott Martin today in the future home of Rye Ridge Deli and Restaurant at 159 Main St.. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) photo

Partners Scott Martin and Mike Ventorino will open the third Rye Ridge Deli sometime early next year, they said today.

Other Rye Ridge Delis – described as a New York Kosher-Style Deli and Restaurant—are in Rye Brook, N.Y. and Stamford.

Oscar’s closed in August a week before the death of longtime owner Lee Papageorge after a 42-year presence on Main Street. (See WestportNow Aug. 8, 2016)

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Thursday, December 01, 2016

Real Estate Brokerage Supporting Toys for Tots

William Pitt Sotheby’s International Realty announced today the firm’s Westport brokerage will support the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots program by hosting an official collection point.

The company said it would accept new, unwrapped toy donations dropped off from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. business hours through Dec. 22 at its office at 199 Post Road East.

Toys for Tots is a program run by the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve, in which new, unwrapped toys are collected and distributed as Christmas gifts to the less fortunate children of that specific campaign’s local community.

“We are humbled to be taking part in this great local cause,” said Marc Caldarone, manager of William Pitt Sotheby’s International Realty’s Westport brokerage.

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JoyRide to Launch Cross-Training Space

Westport’s JoyRide Cycling + Fitness Studio has announced it will expand to launch a new state-of-the-art, 4,000-square foot cross-training space. Image
The JoyRide expansion will occur next month.  (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Photo by Julianne Mulvey

The expansion will allow it to offer cross-training classes and personal training sessions, as well as introduce a new signature class, JoyX, “a challenging, full-body, high-energy workout designed to free one’s inner athlete and push boundaries,” an announcement said.

These intense group-training classes will focus on strength, agility, speed and power, by incorporating rowing machines, TRX, boxing, mixed martial arts and weights, it said.

JoyRide will also be able to expand its popular JoyCircuit class, which will now be accessible to more people.

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Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Comings & Goings: Orthopedic & Sports Medicine Center Opening Image
Orthopedic & Sports Medicine Center is leasing 2,900-square feet of space at 1800 Post Road East, previously occupied by People’s United Bank, according to Franco Fellah, executive vice president of Westport’s HK Group.The shopping center is anchored by Stop & Shop. Founded in 1994, the business already has established locations in Trumbull, Shelton, Stratford and Fairfield, Fellah said. The Westport space is currently under construction and should be ready to open for business in very early 2017, he said. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Contributed photo

11/30/16 10:24 PM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Key Lawmaker: Need to Talk About Raising Revenues

By Keith M. Phaneuf

As analysts outlined a grim picture today that could include further cuts to state social services and reversing recent enhancements in local aid and transportation, one key lawmaker insisted officials must discuss raising revenue in 2017.

Though it is premature to target specific measures — such as tax increases, fee hikes or tolls — Rep. Toni E. Walker, D-New Haven, said trying to offset surging debt costs in the next state budget solely with cuts “is going to be devastating” to Connecticut.

“I believe there are things out there that we need to look at, that we have turned up our nose to” over the past year, she said. “We have to look now, and we have to look at who is suffering in this state.”

Walker, a New Haven Democrat who co-chairs the Appropriations Committee, made her comments after a three-hour briefing on budget trends by executive and legislative branch analysts.

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Sunday, November 27, 2016

Brisk Business at Tree Farm Image
The Connecticut Audubon Society - H. Smith Richardson Christmas Tree Farm at 16 Sasco Creek Road in Westport was doing a brisk business today in Christmas trees and wreaths. A new feature this year is a food truck serving up coffee and hot chocolate. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) photo

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Saturday, November 26, 2016

Comings & Goings: Learning Express Toys Closing Image
It was an ironic announcement for this Small Business Saturday. Alice and David Marks, owners of Learning Express Toys, 425 Post Road East in the Compo Shopping Center, informed customers today they are closing after 21 years in Westport. “We have finally succumbed to the predatory nature of e-commerce in general, and Amazon more specifically,” said David. He said the store would offer 30 percent off all merchandise until the stock runs out. Six store employees will lose jobs as a result of the closing. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) photo

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Friday, November 25, 2016

New Landscaping at Old Y Image
Westport downtown shoppers today admired the new landscaping going in at the Bedford Square development at the corner of Main Street and Church Lane. The multi-use project in the former Westport Weston Family Y building is scheduled to open in April. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) photo

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‘Black Friday’ Shoppers Crowd Main Street Image
Shoppers crowded Westport’s Main Street today looking for “Black Friday” bargains. Banana Republic offered 50 percent off on some items and Williams Sonoma offered the same discount on turkey gravy and other Thanksgiving food items.  (CLICK TO ENLARGE) photo

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Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Comings & Goings: Art’s Deli to be Winfield Deli

By Dave Matlow

Westport’s iconic Art’s Deli at 13 Post Road West, near the intersection of Riverside Avenue, is under new ownership. Image
Art’s Deli, 13, Post Road West, will become Winfield Street Italian Deli. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Bob Eckman for

Breno Donatti, the new owner, also owns Norwalk’s Winfield Italian Deli, 69 Winfield St., and, since February, Winfield Street Espresso & Panini Bar, 4 Railroad Place, across from the Westport Metro-North Railroad Station in Saugatuck.

He said the name of the Post Road West business will be renamed Winfield Street Italian Deli once all town-required permits are approved and issued. 

Donatti said Richard Falcone Sr., former owner of Art’s Deli, recently underwent bypass surgery and is recuperating in Florida. 

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Friday, November 18, 2016

State Agencies Offer More Painful Budget Cuts

By Jacqueline Rabe Thomas and Arielle Levin Becker

Some DMV offices could close. Housing subsidies for those with AIDS could be cut. And hundreds more state jobs could be eliminated by privatizing services for people with intellectual or developmental disabilities.

Residents could have to pay more for a state police background check on a potential employee or babysitter, and nursing homes found to present an imminent danger could be fined $10,000 instead of the current $5,000.

The fire department at Southbury Training School, which serves people with intellectual or developmental disabilities, is proposed for elimination to save $1.6 million.

These are just some of the options for making cuts and generating revenue that state agencies have offered Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s budget office as it prepares a 2017-18 budget proposal to put before legislators.

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Thursday, November 17, 2016

Comings & Goings: Westport Eyecare in New Office Image
Westport Eyecare Associates celebrated its grand reopening tonight in a new location at 212 Post Road West. The practice, established in 2002, had been at 500 Post Road East. Principals Barbara Manion (r) and Jessica Yu, both optometrists, posed for a picture with First Selectman Jim Marpe. Westport Eyecare Associates offers comprehensive eye exams, glasses and designer frames, all types of contact lenses, diagnosis, management and treatment of eye disease such as macular degeneration, glaucoma, and cataracts, LASIK and cataract surgical co-management, and binocular vision evaluations. Bob Weingarten for

11/17/16 08:31 PM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Mixed Signals on CT Jobs Outlook

By Keith M. Phaneuf

Connecticut’s unemployment rate declined three-tenths of a point to 5.1 percent in October, despite the loss of 7,200 jobs, the state Department of Labor reported today.

Over the last 12 months, non-farm employment has now grown by just 3,200 jobs, or 0.2 percent.

“Connecticut’s two monthly measures of labor market health continue to send mixed signals,” said Andy Condon, director of the department’s Office of Research.

“Payroll job counts have declined for four consecutive months, indicating a significant slowing of recent job growth trends. However, the residential employment survey and model continue to show increasing employment, decreasing unemployment and a significant drop in the unemployment rate. We will have to await further data to see which direction our labor markets are headed.”

Private sector employment fell by 4,200 jobs, or 0.3 percent, in October while the public sector lost 3,000 jobs, dropping 1.3 percent.

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Green Beret Honors for Bridgewater’s McCormick

David McCormick, president of Westport’s Bridgewater Associates, was honored Wednesday night with the Quiet Professional Award by The Green Beret Foundation at a New York City event. Image
David McCormick:  honored as Quiet Professional.  Contributed photo

The award is given to a person with unwavering dedication within and outside the military and respected leadership of military personnel.

The Green Beret Foundation is an organization that provides direct and continuous support to the Green Beret Community and its families.

McCormick has close ties to the Green Berets, serving in the U.S. Army at Ft. Bragg, N.C. and as a veteran of the first Gulf War.

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Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Paul Newman Who? New Video Series Aimed at Millennials

Westport-based Newman’s Own has launched a series of videos on social media as part of a marketing campaign aimed at millennials who might not recognize the famous face of the brand and might have little to no knowledge of its altruistic story, according to The New York Times. The videos highlight a few of the 600 charities the company works with each year. (See the first video here.) As part of the campaign, all products will now have a more prominent “100 percent Profits to Charity” on their label. video

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Friday, November 11, 2016

Comings & Goings: Cashmere Shop Back Again Image
A pop-up Cashmere Sale store has opened at 30 Post Road East at the corner of Taylor Place in the same space it occupied last year during the holiday shopping period.  According to its website, the Westport store is one of three in Connecticut. The other two are located in Darien and Greenwich. Additional Cashmere Sale stores are located in 10 other states. The store closes for the season on Sunday, Dec. 11.  (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Bob Eckman for

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Thursday, November 10, 2016

Projected State Budget Deficit Swells

By Keith M. Phaneuf

The projected deficit in the next two-year state budget has swelled by more than $500 million because of declining revenue projections, state fiscal analysts reported today.

Coupled with recent cost hikes projected for Connecticut’s pension fund for teachers, red ink in the next two-year budget has grown by nearly $600 million in two weeks.

The Consensus Revenue Report, signed by the governor’s budget agency and by the legislature’s nonpartisan Office of Fiscal Analysis, also lowered revenue expectations for the current budget by $46 million from the adopted budget, probably worsening deficit forecasts issued in the last few weeks.

Analysts said state government can expect about $208 million less General Fund revenue in the 2017-18 fiscal year than nonpartisan analysts projected this summer, and about $297 million less in 2018-19.

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Comings & Goings: Starbucks, With Drive-Up, Opens Image
Starbucks has opened at 1000 Post Road East and is the only food drive-up in Westport. Relocated from nearby 925 Post Road East, it took over the space occupied until July by Arby’s, which succeeded Burger King there in 2006. The company also has a standalone store at 1 Parker Harding Plaza. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) photo

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New Home for Starbucks Image
The interior of the new Starbucks at 1000 Post Road East in Westport. The store, with a drive-up, relocated from nearby 925 Post Road East in space previously occupied by Arby’s. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) photo

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Thursday, November 03, 2016

Eversource: Lower Energy Costs This Winter

Expect lower electricity costs this winter, according to Eversource Energy. Image

It said the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA) today approved electricity prices from power suppliers that are 18 percent lower than last winter, the lowest winter rate since 2013. 

On Jan. 1, the residential Standard Service supply price will be 7.87 cents per kilowatt-hour, down from last winter’s 9.56 cents, Eversource said.

“While New England still faces significant constraints on natural gas supplies that affect the price of electricity, Eversource is pleased to be able to pass this winter’s price reduction on to its customers,” an announcement said.

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Sunday, October 30, 2016

Comings & Goings: Women’s Wellness Center Opens Nov. 9 Image
Me, Myself and I, a for-women-only wellness center, opens at 1869 Post Road East in the Old Sasco Mill center, on Nov. 9. According to owner Westport resident Gail Heitz,  a veteran psychotherapist, the venture offers life coaching sessions, classes in fitness training and yoga-meditation classes.  (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Contributed photo

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Thursday, October 13, 2016

With Saugatuck Booming, Finance Board OKs Master Plan Funds

By James Lomuscio

With Sauagatuck on the move, Westport’s Board of Finance tonight unanimously approved $440,000 for a transit oriented development (TOD) study to be reimbursed 100 percent by the state. Image
Railroad Place opposite the Metro-North tracks would be among areas included in the study. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for

First Selectman Jim Marpe made the request for funds, which he said would be 100 percent reimbursable via a state Responsible Growth and TOD grant “with no strings attached.”

“While we will be submitting our results of the planning to the state, they have no particular say or oversight on what we do and how we go about the plan,” said Marpe.

He said he was in the process of establishing a steering committee, “and it will be representative of the Saugatuck area.”

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Westphal Sworn In to Finance Board

Westport’s Board of Finance tonight officially welcomed Republican James W. Westphal to its ranks, replacing Clarissa More who stepped down Aug. 3. Image
Town Clerk Patricia Strauss swears in James Westphal tonight as the newest member of the Board of Finance. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) photo from Westport Town Television

He was sworn in by Town Clerk Patricia Strauss, who gave Westphal a temporary name plate before he took his seat on the seven-member board.

Westphal, 53, was approved for the post by the finance board on Sept. 25 following his selection by the Republican Town Committee’s (RTC) Board of Finance Vacancy Committee. He will serve out Moore’s term, ending in November 2019.

Westphal has a background in the investment banking and finance industry and, according to an internet listing, is managing director of Westport-based Logistics and Business Services Capital, LLC, a provider of strategic and financial advisory services in the global transportation, freight, logistics, and business services sectors.

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Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Malloy Names Cybersecurity Chief

By Mark Pazniokas

Arthur H. House, who has had an up-and-down relationship with Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, stepped down today as chairman of the three-member Public Utilities Regulatory Authority to become the first cybersecurity chief for the state of Connecticut. Image
Arthur House and Gov. Dannel P. Malloy. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Mark Pazniokas for

House, 74, who has held senior posts in Congress, intelligence agencies and the private sector, authored a cybersecurity plan in April for the state’s utilities, warning that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security had concluded that “the technology deployed in shutting down parts of the power grid in the Ukraine in December 2015 confirmed that cyber attacks could disable American utilities.”

House said he will be a part of a U.S. delegation next month to the Ukraine to study the attack, the first confirmed instance of hackers shutting down a power grid. Power was restored in a matter of hours, House said, only because workers were able to take physical control of switching equipment.

Months later, the computerized control centers in the Ukraine still were not fully operational. Such an attack might be more difficult to overcome in the U.S., which does not have the same degree of manual backup controls, according to an examination of the incident by Wired.

Click here for more of story

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