Thursday, May 21, 2015
Honoring the Historic Barn that Spawned a Home
By James Lomuscio
Framed by historic stone walls and with a more than 100-year-old sugar maple tree in the front yard, the 2,700-square foot combination farmhouse/Colonial at Westport’s 158 Hillspoint Road goes on the market today for $1.795 million.
David Vynerib points to the original barn with original beams converted into a sunken family room. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com
Over the 18th and 19th centuries, this home—which is a stone’s throw from the Mill Pond and an ambitious walk to Compo Beach—has grown up and out, each new section a portal to a different time.
In addition, there is a 300-square foot separate studio replete with a full bath and fireplace behind the house and adjacent to the 12 feet by 30 feet pool.
Westporter David Vynerib, who purchased the home in February for $900,000 to restore and resell it, seems to marvel at every room he walks in, the wood planked floors recently highlighted with walnut stain.
Taxes Flat Despite Slight Bump in Mill Rate
By James Lomuscio
UPDATE and CORRECT (corrects vote total) Call it Westport’s version of a flat tax.
Property taxes that Westporters pay in the coming fiscal year basically will be flat for three years in a row, according to Finance Director Gary Conrad.
The Board of Finance Wednesday night voted 6 to 1 to approve a .84 percent increase, 18.09 mills from the current year’s 17.94. That translates into $18.09 in taxes for every $1,000 of a property’s assessed value.
What makes the overall tax average flat three years in a row is the fact that during the 2014-15 fiscal year the mill rate was down from the previous year’s 18.07.
New Sidewalk Ready to Greet Art About Town Visitors
Portions of the new brick sidewalk being installed on Westport’s Main Street will be ready for Art About Town street party visitors tonight. The Westport Downtown Merchants Association street festival from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. highlights art on display in downtown stores and businesses for the next month. There will also be musical and street performances, interactive demonstrations, and refreshments along Main Street, which will be closed to traffic. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com
Susan Granger at the Movies: ‘Tomorrowland,’ ‘Pitch Perfect 2,’ ‘Hot Pursuit’
By Susan Granger
If you’ve ever visited Disney World’s EPCOT theme park, you’ve had a glimpse of what Walt Disney and his “imagineers” envisioned as the influence of science and technology on the future of mankind. That’s the basis for “Tomorrowland,” which begins with disillusioned scientist Frank Walker (George Clooney).
When he was a youngster, Frank (Thomas Robinson) brought a jet pack he’d invented to enter in a contest at the 1964 New York World’s Fair. While he didn’t amaze the contemptuous judge (Hugh Laurie), a young observer named Athena (Raffey Cassidy) was so impressed by his optimistic ingenuity that she slipped him a small lapel pin marked with the letter “T.”
To his amazement, when Frank touched the pin, he was miraculously transported to an alternative dimension known as Tomorrowland, a shiny, shimmering, serenely futuristic utopia where the impossible becomes possible…
After that prologue, it’s present-day Cape Canaveral, Florida, where too-bright-for-her-own-good Casey Newton (Britt Robertson) lives with her soon-to-be-out-of-work NASA engineer father (Tim McGraw) and little brother (Pierce Gagnon). She, too, mysteriously receives one of those magical “T” pins, catapulting her into Tomorrowland’s hologram.
Thursday, May 21, 2015
8 a.m. - Town Hall Room 309 - EPC Committee
9 a.m. - 9 p.m. - Westport Library - “Sherwood Island, 1975-2015: Photography by Larry Silver”
10 a.m. - 2 p.m. - 50 Imperial Ave. - Westport Farmers Market
10 a.m. - 4 p.m. - Westport Historical Society - “Saugatuck @Work” & “Framing Saugatuck”
10 a.m. - 5 p.m. - Westport Arts Center - “SOLOS 2015” & “EAST meets WESTport: Marton Nemes”
2 p.m. - Town Hall Room 102 - Residential Real Estate Committee
5:30 p.m. - 8:30 p.m. - Main Street - Art About Town
7 p.m. - Westport Arts Center - Drink n’ Draw - May
7:15 p.m. - Town Hall Room 201/201A - Westport Youth Commission
7:30 p.m. - Town Hall Room 309 - RTM Finance & Environment Committees
7:30 p.m. - Westport Library - Eric Burns on “1920: The Year That Made the Decade Roar”
8 p.m. - Westport Country Playhouse - “The Liar”
See more events: Celebrate Westport Calendar
Wednesday, May 20, 2015
Library Director Finalists Field Public Questions
By James Lomuscio
More than 100 persons filled the Westport Library’s McManus Room tonight to meet and greet and ask questions of the two finalists vying to replace Executive Director Maxine Bleiweis, who is retiring at the end of June.
Finalists: David Hinkley (l), director, Montclair (N.J.) Public Library and William Harmer, director, Chelsea (Mich.) Library. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com
The finalists: William Harmer, director of the Chelsea Library in Chelsea, Mich. and David Hinkley, director of the Montclair Public Library in Montclair, N.J.
The big question of the night: “How do you view innovation, and what will you do to bring innovation to the Westport Library?”
The different styles of each was seen in their introductory responses.
Library Director Candidates Meet Westporters
Scenes from tonight’s Westport Library forum with two candidates to succeed retiring Executive Director Maxine Bleiweis—David Hinkley, director, Montclair (N.J.) Public Library and William Harmer, director, Chelsea (Mich.) Library. Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com
Marpe Forms Search Committee for New Parks & Rec Director
Westport First Selectman Jim Marpe announced today that a search committee has been formed to find a replacement for Parks & Recreation Director Stuart McCarthy, who is retiring at the end of June.
Marpe aid the search will be completed in 30 to 60 days.
Members of the committee include Parks & Recreation Commission Chairman Charles Haberstroh and commission members Karen Hess, Edward Iannone and Alec Stevens.
Other members include David Floyd, chairman of the Representative Town Meeting’s (RTM) Parks & Recreation Committee; Marge Cion, school system human services director; Diane Parrish, community representative; Gerry Lombardo, Fairfield’s Parks & Recreation director, and Ralph Chetcuti, Westport’s human resources director.
Real Estate Report: Compo Beach Hot Area
By Judy Szablak
Westport’s Compo Beach area is brimming with homes for sale and real estate activity, especially at this time of year.
Featured Home This home at 6 Norwalk Ave. in the Compo Beach area is listed at $2,199,000. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Photo courtesy of William Raveis, Westport
In fact, 40 percent of the homes available for sale in this area have come on the market in the last two months alone.
Currently, there are 49 homes available in this neighborhood, and the average price is $3,109,382. Over the last 12 months, the average sale reported through the Greater Fairfield County Multiple Listing Service was $2,580,705.
The lowest priced home in this sought after area is on Vani Court and is listed at $699,800 and the highest priced home is on Owenoke Park for $10,250,000.
Bruce Allen, for Town and Country
By James Lomuscio
One might call Bruce M. Allen—the World War II Army veteran scheduled to be honored with a Westport parade as he tours in an open convertible Memorial Day—the accidental, if not reluctant grand marshal.
Bruce Allen: World War II vet. Larrry Untermeyer for WestportNow.com
“They asked me 10 years ago, and I said no,” recalled Allen, 89. “The whole thing is very upsetting for me, taking a bow for getting shot.”
But Bill Vornkahl, president of the Westport Veterans Council, prevailed this year, and the Purple Heart recipient wounded in Germany at Remagen River Bridge in 1945, a corporal who was an B.A.R. Gunner in the 78th Division liberating Europe, acquiesced.
“I want to do it for the town and my friends,” said Allen, a Westport resident since 1957. “I’m proud of the town.”
Rabbi Urges Congregants Not to Attend Arraignment
On advice of counsel, Temple Israel’s rabbi is asking congregants not to appear in Norwalk Superior Court Thursday when the two suspects who disrupted last week’s luncheon, shouting about Palestinian rights, will be arraigned.
To be arraigned Thursday: Daniel Fischer (l) and Gregory Williams. Westport Police photos
“We want you to know that Temple Israel is playing an active and supportive role in the criminal legal process,” Rabbi Michael S. Friedman said today in an email to members.
“We are asking members of Temple Israel not to appear in court for the arraignment as we have been advised by counsel that such action is likely to be unhelpful,” he added.
Daniel Fischer, 25, of 93 Osborn Ave., New Haven, and Gregory Williams, 25, of 599 Whitney Ave., both of whom have participated in past demonstrations, are each scheduled to face charges of criminal trespass first-degree and breach of peace second-degree.
Gas Line Break Forces Street Closures
Electric workers installing a grounding rod near Sono Baking Company, 44 Church Lane, today penetrated a gas main line, causing closure of downtown streets. Nearby 36 Church Lane was evacuated due to underground gas leak migration into that building, according to Assistant Fire Chief Larry Conklin. Church Lane was closed by police from Myrtle Avenue to Post Road East and from Elm Street to Main Street. Type your caption here. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com
Repairing a Gas Line
Workers check out a gas main line that was pierced during installation of a grounding rod today on Westport’s Church Lane. The street was closed and a nearby building evacuated while repairs were made. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com
Schools: Greenwich ‘Jumped the Gun’ on Staples Principal Offer
By James Lomuscio
UPDATE: Published reports that Greenwich middle school principal Shelly Somers has accepted the offer as principal of Westport’s Staples High School are premature and Greenwich school officials have apologized, Westport Schools Superintendent Elliott Landon said today.
Shelly Somers: middle school principal of year. Contributed photo
While confirming that Somers, principal of Greenwich’s Central Middle School, is the finalist after a six-month search, no offer has been made, officials stressed.
According to a statement issued by Landon, “Greenwich has apologized to me and the Westport community for its error.”
Landon’s statement, however, does not seem to diminish his enthusiasm about Somers as a finalist.
“Both Ms. Somers and I are excited about the possibility that she may join our staff,” Landon said. “She is an accomplished leader in Greenwich who enjoys the respect and appreciation of teachers, students, parents and her administrative colleagues. Most recently she was named Connecticut PTA Middle School Principal of the Year.”