Tuesday, April 30, 2013
Bulldozers were busy at Westport’s Compo Beach today getting the beach ready for the summer season. Beginning Wednesday, all vehicles entering the beach will have to have an emblem or pay a daily entry fee. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Phyllis Groner for WestportNow.com
The Westport Country Playhouse tonight begins previews of “The Dining Room,” created by playwright A. R. Gurney and directed by Mark Lamos, Playhouse artistic director. Jennifer Van Dyck (l) and Jake Robards are among the cast. The first in the Playhouse’s five-play 2013 season is a witty and heartfelt story of the American family and its vanishing traditions set in the most singular of rooms, where people gather, meals are eaten, conversations begin, and generations converge. Opening night is Saturday, and it and runs through May 18. For more information and tickets, call the box office at (203) 227-4177 or visit http://www.westportplayhouse.org. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com
UPDATE A New York judge today cleared the way for a public offering of shares in the Empire State Building and properties on Westport’s Main Street, including Westport Pizzeria.
New York Supreme Court Justice O. Peter Sherwood denied a motion by opposing shareholders to declare illegal a plan that would allow Malkin Holdings, controlled by the Malkin family of Greenwich, to roll the properties into a real estate investment trust.
The Westport properties include 66-99 Main St., current home to Nike Running, Allen Edmonds, and Theory, and 103 (former home of Kate Spade, now empty), 105 (Francois du Pont Jewelers), and 107 (Westport Pizzeria) Main St.
Under the plan, the Empire State Building—owned by Empire State Building Associates LLC, an entity controlled by Malkin—would join at least 20 other properties in the REIT called Empire State Realty Trust Inc. and launch an initial public stock offering. The IPO could bring $1 billion, according to financial advisers.
Among today’s Tony Award nominations was 2003 Staples High School graduate Justin Paul.
He was nominated in the Best Original Score (music and/or lyrics) Written for the Theatre category with writing partner Benj Pasek for their work on “A Christmas Story, The Musical.” The show also received two other nominations.
They are up against “Hands on a Hardbody,” “Matilda The Musical,” and “Kinky Boots,” written by pop star Cyndi Lauper.
Two other Staples graduates, like Paul, former members of Staples Players, worked on shows also receiving nominations.
The Town of Westport on Monday issued a request for proposal (RFP) from real estate developers to redevelop the Queen Anne-style house known as the Kemper/Gunn House, which has stood since 1885 on Church Lane adjacent to the Westport Weston Family Y. The owner of the house, Bridge Square Associates which is redeveloping the Westport Weston Family Y property, has offered to pay to move it to the nearby town-owned Baldwin Parking Lot. The RFP, which has a deadline of May 30, was developed with a group of preservation advocates and with the support of the Westport Historic District Commission (HDC). It seeks a developer who would be responsible for renovating and adapting the house to new uses that could include commercial use. The town would retain ownership of the land and enter into a ground lease with the developer, who would take ownership of the structure at no cost. Bedford Square Associates has applied for a demolition permit for the house (see WestportNow April 15, 2013), and the HDC can delay demolition for as long as 180 days. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com
The shopping strip at 1529 Post Road East at Maple Avenue North has changed hands for $3.45 million, according to broker Jon Angel of Fairfield-based Angel Commercial LLC. The transaction was recorded in the Town Clerk’s office on April 22. He represented the buyer—Post Maple LLC— and the seller, Joseph Rothman Westport LLC. The property on 2.1 acres contains 7,680-square feet of retail space and current tenants include Maple Cleaners, Boat Locker, Dunkin Donuts, Sun Reflexology and Top Drawer. There are no plans to change anything at the premises, other than a general clean up of the property, Angel said. “The seller owned the property for over 45 years,” he said. “It attracted a long list of qualified buyers on an unsolicited basis due to its prime corner location, with traffic lights…and a high traffic count.“ (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com
10 a.m. - 5 p.m. - Westport Arts Center - “SOLOS 2013”
6 p.m. – Town Hall Room 309 – RTM Public Protection Committee
7:30 p.m. - Westport Public Library - Daniel Stashower: “The Hour of Peril: the Secret Plot to Murder Lincoln Before the Civil War”
7:30 p.m. – Town Hall Room 309/307 – RTM Planning & Zoning and Long Range Planning Committees
8 p.m. - Greens Farms Academy - Chefs in Conversation: Michel Nischan and Jeremy Barlow
8 p.m. - Westport Country Playhouse - “The Dining Room”
See more events: Celebrate Westport Calendar
By James Lomuscio
With the unanimous approval of the Westport Board of Education tonight, the playground behind the Long Lots Elementary School will be rebuilt and dedicated to Dylan Hockley, a 6-year old who was one of the 26 murdered in the Dec. 14 Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings in Newtown.
The board agreed to accept to $117,000 gift from the New Jersey State Firefighters Mutual Benevolent Association which is raisning funds to build 26 playgrounds throughout the tri-state area, each one dedicated to one of the victims.
“This will be the fourth,” said Deputy Fire Chief Robert Kepchar, who presented the proposed “no strings attached” gift to the school board.
Kepchar said that one such playground has already been completed in Sea Bright, N.J., and others are underway in Union Beach, N.J. and in Staten Island, N.Y.
The Board of Education tonight approved the hiring of the Kroll security firm to conduct a $98,000 school security audit following the Newtown shootings.
The firm was among three finalists whose representatives appeared before the board in an executive session before the public meeting.
Also taking part in the executive session were Police Chief Dale Call, Deputy Chief Foti Koskinas, and Deputy Fire Chief Robert Kepchar, said Board Chair Elaine Whitney.
In March, an hour before the Representative Town Meeting (RTM) session scheduled to consider a $100,000 school security audit appropriation request, the Board of Education said it was withdrawing the item. (See WestportNow March 5, 2013)
The Westport Board of Education tonight approved the appointment of Norwalk public schools chief operating officer Elio Longo Jr. as school business administrator to replace Nancy Harris, who is retiring in June.
Harris, who has been assistant superintendent for business since 1999, announced her retirement in February. (See WestportNow Feb. 10, 2013)
Longo has served since November 2011 in the Norwalk school system and previously worked for 10 years in Danbury as finance director of its public schools.
Board of Education Chair Elaine Whitney said Longo would serve to at least 2016 at an annual salary of $185,000. Harris last year earned $205,344.
Westport Assistant Superintendent for Business Nancy Harris chats in a Staples High School hallway tonight with her successor, Elio Longo, whose appointment as schools business administrator was approved by the Board of Education. Harris, in her post since 1999, will retire in June. Longo has been chief operating officer of the Norwalk public schools since November 2011 and previously served as finance director of the Danbury public schools. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com
By James Lomuscio
Westport’s Baron’s South Committee today narrowed down its three bidders to develop a senior housing complex to two.
It eliminated Atria Senior Living for its too high rents and agreed to ask remaining bidders Jonathan Rose Companies and TransCon Builders to present the financial details of a project scaled down from 150 to 130 units.
All concurred that Atria’s rents of $8,366 for a two-bedroom, market rate unit, plus a mandatory $1,800 monthly charge for two meals per day and weekly housecleaning of all units, including affordable ones, were opposed to the planned facility’s mission.
“This is not what the town had in mind in donating the land,” said G. Kenneth Bernhard, committee member. “This is a very high end facility only for affluent Westporters.”
The Westport Parks and Recreation Commission tonight approved the use of the Compo Beach area for the Westport Rotary Club’s second annual Lobster Fest fundraiser on Sept. 21. Rick Benson (r), past Rotary district governor, presented the application which was unanimously approved. More than 750 persons attended the inaugural event In September 2012. All profits generated by the event are redistributed at a Rotary Club ceremony each May to local nonprofit organizations. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com
Monday, April 29, 2013
Saturday’s Westport Electric Car Club rally with 33 electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles caught the attention today of a New York Times automobile blog.
The blog, Wheels: the Nuts and Bolts of Whatever Moves You, is written by Jim Motovalli, a Staples High School graduate who said he reluctantly became the navigator in a car that came in second.
“My original plan was to gather color for the article by riding in the back of a Chevrolet Volt driven by Leo Karl III, a New Canaan Chevrolet dealer, but he was short a navigator, so I somewhat reluctantly volunteered,” Motovalli said.
“Some of the directions were a bit cryptic — the ‘street made famous by Chrysler Corp.’ was Imperial Avenue – But we managed to stay on the route.”
By Jim CameronSpecial to WestportNow
Time for a quick update on the good and not-so good news about high-speed rail around the world:
China: The high-speed train between Beijing and Shanghai just passed the 100-million passenger ridership mark after less than two years of operations. The sleek trains depart every 15 minutes carrying 1,00-plus passengers at 200-plus mph, covering the 819 mile distance (comparable to New York to Atlanta) in four hours.
China also recently opened a new 1,400-mile long high speed line from Beijing to Guangzhou (comparable to New York to Key West, Fla.). Travel time, eight hours. That puts high speed rail just 100 miles from Hong Kong.
United States.: America’s fastest train, Acela, while a tinker toy compared to true high-speed rail in China and Europe, is becoming a victim of its own success. Acela has captured more than 50 percent of the New York to DC and New York to Boston market with hourly departures but an average speed of only 75 mph.
Westport’s Wreckers Robotics Team 577 finished strong in the just completed 2013 FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) World Robotics Championship in St. Louis. The team competed in eight matches over several days of tough competition against the top five percent of teams across the world. Whille the team finished strong, in 32nd place, members were unable to replicate the team’s 2011 championship. But they remained upbeat. “It is such an honor to attend this competition and place amongst the brightest and best from all over the world,” said co-captain, Alec Solder, the only remaining member of the 2011 world championship team who rebuilt the team back to its world class level. Added co-captain Troy Fantini, “This is an amazingly competitive event and we were proud to represent Connecticut and give it our best shot. We learned a lot and hope to be back next year to take it home again.” Pictured (l-r) with robot “Stacy:” Ian Blancherdon, Max Liben, Mentor Michael Pan, Co-Captain Alec Solder, Coach John Solder, Will Moeller, Co-Captain Troy Fantini, and Eric Pan. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Contributed photo
An application for a permit to demolish the house at Westport’s 4 Jackie Lane, off Ferry Lane East, is in process. Built in 1950, the one-story ranch has 1.088 square feet and is situated on a .37-acre property. Because the house was built more than 50 years ago, the application will be reviewed by the Westport Historic District Commission. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com
With spring a little more than a month old, some visitors to Westport’s Compo Beach on Sunday acted like summer was here. In one way it almost is—beginning Wednesday, emblems will be required for all vehicles entering town beaches. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Helen Klisser During for WestportNow.com
10 a.m. - 5 p.m. - Westport Arts Center - “SOLOS 2013”
4 p.m. – Town Hall Room 309 – Baron’s South Committee Work Session
5 p.m. – Staples Room 1028 – Board of Education Executive Session
7:30 p.m. – Town Hall Room 309 – RTM Public Protection Committee Canceled
7:30 p.m. – Town Hall Room 201/201A – Parks & Recreation Commission
9 p.m. – Staples Cafeteria B – Board of Education Public Meeting (live coverage cable channel 78, AT&T channel 99, and www.westport.k12.ct.us)
See more events: Celebrate Westport Calendar
Sunday, April 28, 2013
Part of today’s Green Day activities at Westport’s Earthplace was a chance to meet staff member Amanda Chisholm and Earthplace’s new permanent resident, Marble, a barred owl that is most common in the Northeast. Volunteer Dave Carda of Fairfield said, “The owl, which weighs 12-13 ounces, could live in captivity for 15-20 years, much less time if it remained in a natural habitat.” (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com
Staples High School’s Club Green was one of the organizers of this year’s Green Day event. Pictured at Earthplace are (l-r) Grant Schwabacher, Zack Pensak, Sarah Cooperman and Robby Gershowitz. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Contributed photo
The Westport Cinema Initiative, in partnership with the Saugatuck Congregational Church and supported by several local religious institutions, today presented a showing of “A Place at the Table,” a documentary film about hunger in America. The closing act for the Staples High School Green Day brought more than 100 persons to the Westport Town Hall Auditorium. A talk back followed moderated by the Rev. Alison J. Buttrick Patton of the Saugatuck Congregational Church (r) and included (l-r) Kevin Mullins, Community Plate, Bun Lai, chef and owner, Miya sushi restaurant, and Michel Nischan, head chef at Westport’s Dressing Room restaurant and founder of Whole Wave. Contributed photo
It was Trivia Time at the Westport Center for Senior Activities today. Contestants divided into teams and competed against each other answering questions posed by Dan Woog, a Westport author, blogger, and Staples High School soccer coach. Phyllis Groner for WestportNow.com
Soleil Molesworth, 11, of Westport took first place for her age group Saturday in the AAU Connecticut State gymnastics championship competition in Windsor. She took the gold with first place finishes in the floor exercise, the uneven bars, and the balance beam, and a bronze medal for the vault. Her overall scores gave her the first place finish and trophy for the best in all around honors.Ten AAU gymnastics teams from all over Connecticut competed at the event. Contributed photo
The Westport Weston Family Y’s Showtime Exhibition Gymnastics Team performed at the Bridgeport Bluefish game at Harbor Yard today. Under the direction of Sports and Recreation Director Sally Silverstein, the gymnasts led off the game against the York Revolution with a set of three routines choreographed to songs such as “Footloose.” (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Contributed photo
The Wakesman Town Farm marked Green Day today with the planting of trees at the town-owned farm on Long Lots Road. Leni Lemcke, 9, a third grade student at Long Lots Elementary School, helped plant a tree with a farm volunteer. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com
At today’s Green Day event, Wakeman Town Farms chair Elizabeth Beller shows a chick named Chestnut to Colin, 3 1/2, as his sister Alexis, 5, looks on. Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com
Scenes from today’s 34th annual Minute Man Race sponsored by the Westport Young Woman’s League. Click here for official results. Helen Klisser During for WestportNow.com
Tyler Hicks and sister Darcy Hicks of Westport were among the runners in today’s 10K Minute Man race. It was a last minute entry for Tyler, award-winning New York Times photographer and 1988 Staples High School graduate. He was scheduled to return to his Nairobi, Kenya base a couple of days ago, but his departure was delayed, allowing him to enter the race today. He said he stays in shape by running eight miles a day in Nairobi. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Helen Klisser During for WestportNow.com