Wednesday, March 31, 2004
Lawyers for Westport’s Martha Stewart asked for a new trial today.They said one of the jurors who convicted her lied about an arrest on assault charges.
In a filing made in a New York federal court, Stewart lawyer Robert Morvillo said he would have sought to exclude juror Chappell Hartridge had he known about his past.
“These facts, in and of themselves, establish that Ms. Stewart is entitled to a new trial,’’ Morvillo wrote, according to news agency reports.
On the day of the guilty verdict, the juror said publicly that he believed the decision was “a victory for the little guys.”
Westport First Selectwoman Diane Goss Farrell said today that the town may choose to do a full physical reassessment of properties instead of the “statistical” reval done as part of the aborted 2003 property assessment.
Farrell’s comments at her weekly citizens brown bag lunch came one day after announcing appointment of a 10-member Revaluation Working Group to oversee the revaluation effort. (WestportNow March 30, 2004)
In response to a question, Farrell said there were a number of initiatives being made at the state level on property assessments and “homesteader” relief during the current legislative session.
She said requirements municipalities must follow regarding property assessments could change before the session ends.
To the Editor:
I awoke this morning (March 30, 2004) to the sound of bulldozers and backhoes cranking up their engines to begin the demolition of Allens Clam House. This is a very sad moment for all Westporters җ past, present and future.
With each demolition of a historic property, another small piece of the charm, the character and the soulӔ that makes our community so special is chipped away.
Over the last decade or more, we have lost dozens of historically significant buildings to demolition.
Its not that the newly constructed homes that replace them are so bad, or even that every older building is worth saving. But we only have one New England, one Connecticut and one Westport.
When the buildings and homes that defined this unique part of our heritage are gone, what will there be for future generations to touch and feel and understand how it was here in our past?
Sadly, it comes down to politics. Many of our local politicians have decided that demolition is often the first course of action when, in fact, it should be the other way around.
All other options should be fully explored before destroying any historically significant building.
What happened to AllenҒs and to so many other unique buildings and homes in Westport is acceptable under our current set of rules and ordinances. But this doesnt have to keep happening.
Laws are made to be changed and amended.
I invite you to join us in our efforts (www.fairfieldcountypreservation.org) to change the mindset of politicians throughout Fairfield County.
The 23 communities that call this region home can benefit tremendously by their leaders giving historic preservation the attention it so desperately needs. Keep in mind, once our historic places are gone, they’re lost forever.
John M. Lupton, Westport native
The Fairfield County Preservation Trust
The extra effort being mounted by Democrats for Westport First Selectwoman Diane Goss Farrell in her race to unseat veteran Republican congressman Chris Shays has prompted Congressional Quarterly to change its re-election rating for Shays from “Safe Republican” to “Republican Favored.”
“Based on his past performances, Republican Rep. Christopher Shays looks pretty close to a sure thing as he seeks a 10th victory in Connecticut’s 4th District,” the respected Capitol Hill publication said in its updated assessment of the race.
“But there are not many vulnerable Republican incumbents nationally because of redistricting and other institutional factors.
“And Democratic strategists have sworn to broaden the playing field by challenging a number of seemingly entrenched GOP House members—one of whom is Shays.”
Traffic is flowing again southbound on I-95 in Bridgeport after it was shut down a week ago because of a fiery crash.
Chris Cooper, spokesman for the state Department of Transportation, said the three lanes were opened about 3:30 a.m.
Television coverage showed traffic moving slowly along the roadway in a light rain.
Crews had worked Tuesday and throughout the night to pave over a section of temporary bridge brought in to replace the overpass.
It was destroyed last Thursday night after the accident in which a tanker truck carrying heating oil struck a concrete barrier and burst into flames.
The northbound lanes of the bridge were repaired and reopened Sunday night.
The Polite Performers returned to Long Lots Elementary School recently to demonstrate ways to identify and deal with bullying behavior. Created several years ago by the Long Lots Leadership Council, the show is written by parents and staff, and is performed by teachers and staff at Long Lots. (CLICK PHOTO TO ENLARGE) Julia Mally for WestportNow.com
7:30 a.m. - Town Hall Room 309/307 - TEAM Westport Committee
10:30 a.m. - Town Hall Room 102 - International Hospitality Committee
Noon - Town Hall Room 309/307 - Citizens Brown Bag Luncheon
7 p.m. Westport Police Department classroom - “Animal Awareness Forum”
8 p.m. - Town Hall Auditorium - Special Board of Finance
Gov. John Rowland, back at the I-95 tanker accident site, said today the southbound lanes of I-95 in the area are expected to reopen in time for Wednesday morning’s rush hour.
Rowland said the exact timing of the reopening in the area of Bridgeport exits 25 to 27 would depend on how much the rain that was forecast for tonight interferes with paving work and painting road markings.
But all signs pointed to the highway being fully open by about 6 a.m. Wednesday, he said.
“Hopefully they will be going southbound on 95 first thing tomorrow morning,” he said.
The northbound lanes of the bridge were repaired and reopened Sunday night.
Tuesday, March 30, 2004
This weekend is the beginning of daylight savings time and the Westport Fire Department strongly urges everyone to “change your clock, change your batteries.” It is offering free batteries to residents beginning Saturday. STORY
Property transfers as reported by the Town Clerk’s office for the period March 22-26, 2004:
William S. Hemson III-aka et als to Annino Protano, 971 Post Road East, $1,200,000.
Westport Home and Land Co. LLC to Susan Spivak, Unit 23, 32 Terra Nova Circle, $955,116.
Peter and Beth Hill to Wendy Decter, 41 Tamarac Road, $865,000.
Carollyn C. Kahler to Rita Kohn Chingas, Unit 306 Harvest Commons, $748,000.
C & C Development Enterprises LLC to Woodson and Kathleen H. Merrell, 77 Maple Ave. South, $2,075,000.
Raymond Bardani to Anne Lantz, Unit 3, 90 Main St., $317,900.
Westport Police Chief Al Fiore announced today that the annual Westport Police Athletic League (PAL) Independence Day fireworks will be held Friday, July 2 at Compo Beach.
The chief made the announcement during a luncheon speech at the Westport Rotary Club.
While wreckers worked, Wally Woods, co-program chair of the Westport Historical Society, searched Allen’s Clam House today for artifacts for Westports archives. See another photo on COMMUNITY page. (CLICK PHOTO TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com
Westport Police Chief Al Fiore addresses today’s Westport Rotary Club luncheon at the Inn at Longshore as Lois Schine listens. He outlined steps Westport has taken since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and said while the town may not be a prime terrorist target, “I believe Westport is well prepared for any eventuality.” (CLICK PHOTO TO ENLARGE) WestportNow.com photo
Shortly after 2 p.m. today, the last remaining portion of Allen’s Clam House was taken down by a demolition crew, leaving only a pile of rubble. The site will become a town park. (CLICK PHOTO TO ENLARGE) WestportNow.com photo
Saddened Westporters watch the final moments of the landmark Allen’s Clam House today as it fell to a wrecking crew. Among them are (l to r) Bill Scheffler, Bob Scholl, and Ann Sheffer. (CLICK PHOTO TO ENLARGE) WestportNow.com photo
Westport First Selectwoman Diane Goss Farrell today announced appointment of a 10-member committee to oversee the town’s aborted 2003 property assessment.
The group, known as the Revaluation Working Group, will be chaired by town Finance Director Donald Miklus
Other members include Helen Garten, Representative Town Meeting (RTM) member from District 3; Rick Benson, Board of Finance member; Garson Heller, Board of Assessment Appeals member; Michael Laux, a real estate attorney; Audrey Magida, a real estate broker with Prudential Connecticut Realty; Annette Fiorenza, a real estate broker with William Raveis and president of the Mid-Fairfield County Association of Realtors; Selectman Carl Leaman; acting Assessor Kevin Murowsky, and Tax Collector George Underhill.
The appointments are effective immediately and will serve at the pleasure of the First Selectwoman, according to an announcement from Farrell’s office.
A new survey by the Westport Weston Health Districts Target Lyme Disease project, in conjunction with the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, has found deer to be evenly distributed throughout both communities.
This map by the Westport Weston Health District shows the density of Westport’s deer population. (CLICK MAP TO ENLARGE) . Westport Weston Health District graphic
ғThe number of deer in the two towns remains stable, said Judy Nelson, director of health, following the March 20 helicopter survey.
The survey was conducted by Dr. Uma Ramakrishnan, of the Department of Forestry and Horticulture, Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station.
The purpose was to gather information on the number and distribution of deer in the two towns. Comparative data was use to assess the deer population.
Ramakrishnan estimated the deer density to be about 30 deer per square mile in Westport and 25 deer per square mile in Weston.
Allen’s Clam House, a Westport landmark for more than a century, is coming down today.
The former restaurant, now town-owned, will be demolished after years of debate over what to do with the Hillspoint Road property. It will become a park.
Workers Monday found an abandoned fuel tank on the property and had to dig out soil around it.
The town bought the property in 1999 for $1.2 million, some of it contributed by neighbors and other Westporters.
A last-ditch effort by town historian Allen Raymond before the Board of Finance and then the Representative Town Meeting to save the building failed.
A key legislative committee in Hartford has passed a bill aimed at helping Westport taxpayers and others in Connecticut who are facing large property tax increases.
The legislation would allow cities and towns to adopt local ordinances and exempt part of a residential homeowner’s property tax liability in an effort to soften the blow.
Westport’s 2003 property assessment, now postponed for a year, could have meant a double-digit or more ֖ jump in local taxes for some homeowners after their property was re-valued.
The legislation passed the Finance, Revenue and Bonding Committee 26-19 Monday. It awaits further action in the Senate.
Construction workers have moved the skeleton of a temporary bridge into place to replace an I-95 overpass in Bridgeport that melted last week in the fiery crash of a fuel oil tanker truck.
The process, begun as the evening rush hour got under way, took a few hours.
State Department of Transportation spokesman Chris Cooper said the bridge on the southbound side of the highway will be paved today and should be open to motorists by Thursday.
The northbound lanes of the bridge were repaired and reopened Sunday night.
The U.S. Department of Transportation said Monday that it would give Connecticut $2 million in emergency aid to build the new bridge and pay for police overtime for traffic control.
The agency already has expedited $11.2 million in highway funds for the project.
Today’s Hartford Courant spotlights an effort by Democrats to discredit Rep. Christopher Shays, the incumbent 4th District Republican who will face Westport Democratic First Selectwoman Diane Goss Farrell in November.
“Democrats were waiting in the bunker as Chris Shays voted on the budget earlier this month,” the newspaper said in a report from Washington.
“Voting with the majority on the House Budget Committee, he turned back repeated efforts by Democrats to add money for a host of programs by scaling back tax breaks for the wealthy.”
The newspaper said the head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee pounced, accusing Shays of “creating soaring deficits” and “masquerading as a moderate in Connecticut while voting for a far right wing agenda in Washington.”
8:30 a.m. - Town Hall Room 201 - Community Mental Health
7:30 p.m. - Town Hall Room 309 - RTM Parks & Recreation Committee
7:30 p.m. - Town Hall Room 201 - RTM Employee Compensation and RTM Education Committees
Westport’s MediaReach has been retained to represent the video advertising network at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in Manhattan.
The deal was announced today by Robert Harris, chairman of MediaReach and Myles McGrane, vice president operations, Javits Convention Center.
Under this initial agreement, MediaReach will assist the Javits Advertising Sales Department in selling time on the network for the 2004 New York International Auto Show.
An estimated 1.3 million visitors are expected to attend the auto show during its 10-day run from April 9 through April 18.
The Westport Historical Society (WHS) has appointed Denise Torv as its new executive director.
Denise Torv takes over Historical Society role. Contributed photo
Torv, a Westport resident since 1997, was the executive director of First Night Westport/Weston for the past three years, and previously worked at the American Film Institute and American Cinematheque in Los Angeles.
We are delighted to welcome Denise as Executive Director,Ӕ said Joni Andrews, president of WHS.
Her enthusiasm, creative talents, broad museum experience and love of history are a natural fit with the goals and mission of the Westport Historical Society.Ӕ
Originally from New York City, Torv lived in Australia for several years where she graduated from the University of New South Wales, working as a journalist before switching to communications and community relations for non-profit arts organizations.
Monday, March 29, 2004
Arrow shows two deer spotted during a March 20 helicopter deer survey by the state and the Westport Weston Health District. (See inset upper right for enlarged portion.) The survey found Westport’s deer population unchanged from four years ago about 30 deer per square mile. (CLICK PHOTO TO ENLARGE) Westport Weston Health District photo
Workers today prepared to swing a temporary bridge into place on the southbound side of I-95 and officials said the section of highway closed after a fiery accident Thursday night could fully reopen in a few days.
Earlier experts had said the highway would be closed for two weeks or more. The northbound lanes reopened shortly after 5 p.m. Sunday.
“Who would have thought that in just a few days we’d have the northbound section open?” Gov. John G. Rowland said today at a news conference at the site.
“We will probably have just a few more days and then we will be back on track.”