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Thursday, November 17, 2016

Comings & Goings: Westport Eyecare in New Office

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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 WestportNow.com

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

Mixed Signals on CT Jobs Outlook

By Keith M. Phaneuf

www.ctmirror.org

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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11/17/16 01:49 PM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

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.

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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. YouTube.com video

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Friday, November 11, 2016

Comings & Goings: Cashmere Shop Back Again

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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 WestportNow.com

11/11/16 04:21 PM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Projected State Budget Deficit Swells

By Keith M. Phaneuf

www.ctmirror.org

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

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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) WestportNow.com photo

11/10/16 03:26 PM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

New Home for Starbucks

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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) WestportNow.com photo

11/10/16 03:21 PM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Thursday, November 03, 2016

Eversource: Lower Energy Costs This Winter

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

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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

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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. 

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Railroad Place opposite the Metro-North tracks would be among areas included in the study. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

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.

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Town Clerk Patricia Strauss swears in James Westphal tonight as the newest member of the Board of Finance. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) WestportNow.com 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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10/13/16 08:21 PM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Malloy Names Cybersecurity Chief

By Mark Pazniokas

www.ctmirror.org

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.

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Arthur House and Gov. Dannel P. Malloy. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Mark Pazniokas for Ctmirror.org

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.

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10/12/16 06:38 PM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Wednesday, October 05, 2016

Former Westport Broker Jailed in $1M Swindle

A former Westport wealth management advisor today was sentenced to 41 months in prison for stealing more than $1.2 million from an elderly Weston client.

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Robert Tricarico: sentenced to 41 months.  LinkedIn photo

Robert N. Tricarico, 60, of Milford and formerly of Darien, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Michael P. Shea in Hartford to 41 months of imprisonment followed by three years of supervised release, said Deidre M. Daly, U.S. Attorney for Connecticut.

Until April 2015, Tricarico, a registered securities broker, was associated with RNT Wealth Management at 181 Post Road West, prosecutors said. His LinkedIn profile said from 1992 to 2009 he had worked in Westport for Wells Fargo, Smith Barney, and Merrill Lynch.

A U.S. Attorney’s Office release said he had previously worked for or been associated with firms that included Northstar Wealth Partners, LPL Financial, and Wells Fargo Advisors Financial Network.

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10/05/16 06:04 PM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

State Legislature Candidates Face Off

Incumbent Democratic state Rep. Jonathan Steinberg of the 136th Assembly District and Republican challenger Catherine Walsh faced off today in a forum at the Westport Library hosted by the Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce.

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State Democratic Rep. Jonathan Steinberg and Republican challenger Catherine Walsh faced off at the Westport Library in a session moderated by Alan Nevas, retired senior U.S. district judge and one-time holder of the 136th Assembly District seat.  (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

Steinberg, 60, who is seeking his fourth two-year term to represent the district that includes most of Westport, and Walsh, 61, chair of the Planning and Zoning Commission (P&Z), both portrayed themselves as having the experience to help the state out of its fiscal woes.

Retired senior U.S. District Judge Alan Nevas of Westport, who held the 136th seat for six years in the 1970s, served as moderator and posed questions to the candidates before a noontime McManus Room audience of about 50 persons.

Steinberg, a former member of the Representative Town Meeting (RTM), touted his first-time endorsement by the Connecticut Business & Industry Association (CBIA) and efforts on behalf of the moderate caucus among legislative Democrats to make the state more business friendly.

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10/05/16 04:04 PM Comments (1) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Comings & Goings: The Flat Opens on Railroad Place

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The Flat, a home furnishings, accessories, contemporary lighting and vintage furniture store has opened at 24 Railroad Place, opposite the Saugatuck train station, according to owner Becky Goss, a Westport resident for over 20 years. With contiguous retail neighbors Indulge by Mercene and Eleish Van Breems this segment of Railroad Place is emerging as a boutique fashion area. The space was formerly occupied by Casa Ryan and Olivette. Hours are Wednesday through Saturday, 11 a.m.- 6 p.m. or by appointment. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

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Monday, October 03, 2016

Motor Club to End DMV Services to Non-Members

AAA Northeast has informed the state it will discontinue offering driver licensing services for people in southwest Connecticut who are not members of its motor clubs.

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The AAA office in the Compo Shopping Center before it closed in 2015. Previously it had been on Saugatuck Avenue. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Contributed photo

The decision brought an angry response today from Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, who called the action “unacceptable” and threatened legal action to resolve the issue.

AAA Northeast has offered this service to all Connecticut residents since 2001, regardless whether they were members. 

Eight AAA Northeast offices are affected. They are in Branford, Danbury, Fairfield, Hamden, Milford, Norwalk, Stamford, and Waterbury. The Westport office closed in 2015.

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10/03/16 08:22 PM Comments (1) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Controller Reports a Balanced Budget – But Has Big Concerns

By Keith M. Phaneuf

www.ctmirror.org

State Comptroller Kevin P. Lembo today raised concerns — for the second consecutive month — about the stability of the current state budget, though he stopped short of reporting a deficit.

In his latest monthly budget forecast, Lembo affirmed the conclusion of Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s administration that the $19.7 billion budget adopted in June for 2016-17 is on pace to finish $200,000 in the black, just as it was written.

But Connecticut’s chief fiscal watchdog also expressed caution about both spending and revenue trends in the current budget.

Republican legislative leaders already have said they believe state finances are in deficit and that Malloy is masking this problem to help his fellow Democrats in the legislature’s majority survive this fall’s state elections.

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10/03/16 03:36 PM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Innovative Organizations Sought for Venture Funding

Westport’s Social Venture Partners Connecticut (SVP Connecticut) wants to close the opportunity gap in Connecticut.

The venture philanthropy organization once again is seeking innovative organizations operating in Connecticut interested in receiving multi-year grants of up to $25,000 per year and pro bono strategic consulting.

The group announced that it is accepting letters of interest for investment with a submission deadline of Monday, Oct. 17. All submissions must be made online at the SVP Connecticut website, http://www.socialventurepartners.org/connecticut

A public information session to learn more about SVP Connecticut and its innovative model of engaged philanthropy will be held on Wednesday from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. in the McManus Room of the Westport Library.

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10/03/16 03:17 PM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Friday, September 30, 2016

CT Budget Closes in Deficit Again; Little Reserves Left for This Year

By Keith M. Phaneuf

www.ctmirror.org

Connecticut today officially closed its second consecutive fiscal year in deficit, shrinking its budget reserve to a low level as threats of another shortfall loom.

Comptroller Kevin P. Lembo certified a $170.4 million deficit for the 2015-16 fiscal year, a gap equal to 1.5 percent of General Fund spending. (Though the last fiscal year ended June 30, the comptroller cannot close the books until late September, since certain tax receipts received over the summer are applied to the prior budget.)

Lembo must again cover the deficit by drawing from the rainy day fund, which will be left with just $235.6 million. The new reserve is less than half of what Connecticut had before the consecutive annual deficits. More importantly it leaves Connecticut with a fiscal cushion equal to just 1.3 percent of annual operating costs.

The comptroller recommends a rainy day fund of 15 percent, given the large fluctuations in state income tax receipts Connecticut traditionally faces in very good and very poor economic times.

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09/30/16 05:56 PM Comments (2) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Thursday, September 29, 2016

P&Z Says Yes to Elm Street Land Swap

By James Lomuscio

Westport’s Planning and Zoning Commission (P&Z) tonight voted 6 to 0 with 1 abstention to give a positive report on a planned Elm Street land swap that would net the town nine additional parking spaces downtown.

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This building housing the Villa Del Sol Restaurant at 35 Elm St. would be razed and swapped for part of the town-owned parking lot across the street. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

The positive report is the first step allowing developer David Waldman 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 has an option to buy at 35 Elm St. across the street.

Waldman, principal of David Adam Realty who is heading the nearby Bedford Square Pproject, also owns the historic Kemper Gunn House relocated to the town lot three years ago.

Frist Selectman Jim Marpe has been supporting the land swap and two weeks ago requested a positive P&Z endorsement. Marpe has been bullish on the plan since the town would gain nine parking space in the parking-stressed downtown.

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Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Sikorsky Incentives Win Bipartisan Approval in Special Session

By Mark Pazniokas

www.ctmirror.org

Connecticut legislators today took a one-day break from re-election campaigns to give bipartisan blessing to a $220 million incentive deal for Lockheed Martin that would keep its Sikorsky Aircraft subsidiary and production of its next generation of helicopters in a state desperate to keep its storied aerospace industry.

At a State Capitol inured to economic gloom, most legislators embraced the Sikorsky deal as a cause for celebration, a victory that promises to pump $69.2 billion into the economy over 14 years, while saving thousands of jobs at Sikorsky’s sprawling plant in Stratford and at more than 300 suppliers throughout the state.

“Competition in today’s worldwide economic climate is fierce, and Connecticut is showing that we remain a valued leader where businesses can maintain a competitive edge well into the future,” Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said after final passage.

Passage came on votes of 35-1 in the Senate and 136-6 in the House.

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Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Comings & Goings: Sports Attic Opens

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Owner Gregory DiLenge stands outside his Sports Attic store which has opened at 26 Railroad Place. The store features both new and used sporting goods/gear. DeLenge, a former commodities trader, says it is based on the model of his family’s store in Westchester County. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

09/27/16 06:49 PM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Comings & Goings: Pier 1 Imports Closing

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Home furnishings retailer Pier 1 Imports Inc. at Westport’s 1460 Post Road East will close at the end of October, according to a store employee. Signage at the entrance advertises discounts on inventory and reminds customers of other nearby Pier 1 stores in Fairfield, Norwalk and Danbury. Pier 1 Imports has been in Westport since 1974, first at 645 Post Road East. In the following years its locations included 950 Post Road East, now Men’s Wearhouse. The company announced in April 2015 it planned to close about 100 stores over the next three years, primarily through natural lease expirations and relocations. This, it said, is part of efforts to drive growth through its online platform, reduce occupancy and payroll costs, and improve efficiency. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

09/25/16 10:10 PM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Thursday, September 22, 2016

‘It Looks Wimpy to Pick on the Little Guy’

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Westporter Michael Gordon, chair of the Board of Education, was on the CNBC business cable channel today offering advice to CEOs on the hot seat at congressional hearings in recent days. They include John Stumpf, chairman and CEO of Wells Fargo, involved in a fake accounts scandal, and Heather Bresch, CEO of Mylan, maker of EpiPens, whose recent price increases have stirred controversy. “It looks wimpy to pick on the little guy,” said Gordon, whose firm Group Gordon offers public relations strategic services to some of the nation’s top firms. “Heads must roll,” he said. “You have to show real contrition and follow up with action ... Take responsibility and stop shifting blame.” He said firms in the congressional spotlight should offer up an ethics policy as part of their response. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) WestportNow.com photo from CNBC

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Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Clarification on Property at 1620 Post Road East

A property at 1620 Post Road East, which houses Pane e Bene Italian restaurant, Stanton Miles power vacuum and home decorations store, Innovation Luggage, and Redi-Cut Carpeting, is for sale but has not been sold, according to its owner.

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The property at 1620 Post Road East is on the market, according to its owner. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

In a Sept. 15 WestportNow Comings & Goings story about Stanton Miles moving, store co-owner Dave Kernstock was incorrectly quoted as saying “the building was recently purchased.”

What he actually said was “the building is being sold,” a fact confirmed by property owner Ernest Breiner, 91, of Fairfield, who says he has owned the property with his late brother since 1948.

Meanwhile, Angelo Capponi, co-owner of neighboring Pane e Bene said he had received “many calls and e-mails from the restaurant’s loyal clientele” expressing disappointment that it was leaving the site, which the WestportNow story did not state.

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Thursday, September 15, 2016

Elm Street Land Swap Gets More Praise Than Pushback

By James Lomuscio

Westport’s Planning and Zoning Commission (P&Z) tonight heard developer David Waldman’s proposed land swap on Elm Street—one that would allow him to put up a $7 million building on a piece of the town’s Baldwin Parking Lot in exchange for land across the street, netting the town nine additional parking spaces.

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The property at 36 Elm St. would be turned into a parking lot to be swapped for town-owned land in the Baldwin lot across the street. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Contributed photo

Waldman, principal of David Adam Realty who is heading the nearby Bedford Square Pproject, also owns the historic Kemper Gunn House relocated to the town lot three years ago.

With Frist Selectman Jim Marpe supporting the land swap and requesting a positive P&Z endorsement, Waldman and his architect Rick Hoag detailed the plan. The P&Z took no action, but closed the hearing to later vote on the matter.

The proposal includes Waldman buying the Villa Del Sol building and property totaling .15449 acres at 36 Elm St., on which he has an option, for $6 million, including buying out the restaurant’s lease. He then plans to raze the building, making the area it into a parking lot.

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09/15/16 09:54 PM Comments (1) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Cutting the Ribbon at Vine Wine Room

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The Vine Wine Room had its official opening today at 190 Main St. in space formerly occupied by Luxe Wine Bar, which closed in April. Among those doing the honors: (l-r): co-owner Sammy Alanz, Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce (WWCC) Board Member Adam Faillace, WWCC Executive Director Matthew Mandell, Westport First Selectman Jim Marpe, and co-owner Heather Buchheit-Ferrari. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Contributed photo

09/15/16 08:45 PM Comments (0) • PermalinkEmail Favicon Facebook Favicon LinkedIn Favicon

Marpe: Unsure How Bridgewater Layoffs Will Impact Town

Westpot First Selectman Jim Marpe, responding to reports of layoffs at Bridgewater Associates, the hedge fund that is Westport’s largest private employer, said today it is too early to determine their impact.

Bridgewater is an important contributor to the local economy, “so we recognize that any changes they make could affect other parts of the Westport economy,” he said.

“That said, since they are still in the process of their organizational renovation, I have no way of knowing how that might affect Bridgewater’s presence in Westport,” Marpe said.

“I and other town officials remain in regular contact with Bridgewater leadership, and I appreciate their ongoing commitment to working with the town to accomplish their goals in a cooperative manner.”

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Bridgewater Announces Layoffs

Bridgewater Associates, the world’s largest hedge fund by assets and Westport’s largest private employer, has announced a firm-wide “renovation” that will include employee layoffs, according to someone familiar with the matter, CNBC reported today.

In a letter to clients, officials at the $150 billion-asset company said it was “digging into the areas of inefficiency to improve them” as part of a “renovation to improve efficiencies at Bridgewater,” the cable business news network reported.

That process will involve “significant changes to people, processes, and technologies,” it added.

At a town hall meeting held earlier today, Bridgewater executives warned that those changes would include layoffs. Business Insider published the letter, and reported on the plans, at midday, CNBC said.

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