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Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Steinberg ‘Humbled’ to Serve Westport for 3rd Term

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State Rep. Jonathan Steinberg of Westport was among legislators sworn in today at the Capitol.  Steinberg, beginning his third term serving the 136th House District—and the only Democrat representing Westport in Hartford—said, “The Connecticut State Capitol is an historic and awe-inspiring place. I am humbled to be serving Westport in this building.” (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com


01/07/15 12:55 PM Comments () • Permalink

All Smiles

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State Rep. Gail Lavielle, whose 143rd House District includes part of Westport, is all smiles today following her swearing in for a third term at the Capitol in Hartford. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com


01/07/15 12:45 PM Comments () • Permalink

State Legislature Opens New Session

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The view in the State House today as the new legislative session got under way. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com


01/07/15 12:40 PM Comments () • Permalink

For 2015-16 Budget, Board Gets into the Weeds

By James Lomuscio

The Board of Education today hunkered down with school administrators in the Westport Library’s McManus Room for an all-day examination of School Superintendent Elliott Landon’s proposed $113,294,493 budget for next year.

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The all-day budget session at the Westport Library reviewed the Board of Education budget in detail. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) James Lomuscio for WestportNow.com

The work session, at which PTA heads and members of the Board of Finance and Representative Town Meeting (RTM) were present, began at 8:30 a.m. and was expected to run until 3:30 p.m.

Landon’s proposed 2015-16 budget represents a 3.75 increase over the current operating budget, he said.

Michael Gordon, school board chairman, today said Landon’s budget was “academically on the cutting edge but fiscally very lean.”

More "For 2015-16 Budget, Board Gets into the Weeds"


01/07/15 12:30 PM Comments () • Permalink

Library’s Bleiweis to Retire July 1

By James Lomuscio

UPDATE Maxine Bleiweis, credited with bringing the Westport Library into the 21st century after taking the helm as executive director in 1998, announced today in a formal letter to the library’s Board of Trustees that she will retire effective July 1.

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Maxine Bleiweis: decision “difficult one.” Contributed photo

“I’ve been doing this for 41 years and have been here for 17, and I feel this institution has never been at a stronger point and with a fantastic staff,” said Bleiweis, a Black Rock, Bridgeport resident who directed libraries in Newington and Suffield before coming to Westport.

“It’s sort of like being a marathoner in a relay,” she added. “You want to hand off that baton in a time of strength.”

Bleiweis, working on her final library budget for next year, plans to assist the board “in terms of consulting and advising” after retirement.

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01/07/15 11:44 AM Comments () • Permalink

Church Lane Open to Pedestrians

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Church Lane would be a “shared street” partially open to pedestrians under the draft Westport downtown master plan released Tuesday.  (CLICK TO ENLARGE) RBA Group graphic


01/07/15 10:40 AM Comments () • Permalink

New Library Lane

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A new Library Lane connecting Jesup Road to the Westport Library and extending to the Imperial Avenue parking lot was one of the suggestions in the draft Westport downtown master plan released Tuesday. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) RBA Group graphic


01/07/15 10:35 AM Comments () • Permalink

Downtown Master Plan Shows Reconfigured Jesup Green

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The draft downtown master plan released Tuesday provides for a reconfigured Jesup Green and a new Library Lane at the top of Jesup Green. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) RBA Group graphic


01/07/15 10:29 AM Comments () • Permalink

WestportNow Teardown of the Day: 66 Beachside Ave.

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An application for a permit to demolish three houses at Westport’s 66 Beachside Ave. is in process. Each built in 1900, include a two-story custom contemporary which has 4,907 square feet, a 1-3/4 story cape that has 1,118 square feet and a one-story ranch which has 799 square feet. One of the structures is identified by the Westport Historic District Commission (HDC) as the C. Sooysmith/Frederick T. Bedford Estate Stable. The houses are situated on a 7.13-acre waterside property which was the home of Ruth Bedford, the last surviving grandchild of Westport philanthropist Edward T. Bedford. She died June 15, 2014 at age 99. Because the houses were built more than 50 years ago, the application will be reviewed by the HDC. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com


01/07/15 09:38 AM Comments () • Permalink

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

8 a.m. - Town Hall Room 201 - Maintenance Study Committee
8:30 a.m. - Westport Library - Board of Education Public Meeting Budget Work Session
10 a.m. - Town Hall Room 201 - UN Hospitality Committee
10 a.m. - 4 p.m. - Westport Historical Society - “Saugatuck @Work” & “Framing Saugatuck”
10 a.m. - 5 p.m. - Westport Arts Center - “Perception Illusion MAGIC”
4 p.m. - Westport Library - Imagination Foundation Workshops (grades 6-8)
6:30 p.m. - Westport Library - Chess Club for Adults
7 p.m. - Town Hall Room 309 - Board of Finance Executive Session
7:30 p.m. - Town Hall Room 201 - Flood & Erosion Control Board
8 p.m. - Town Hall Auditorium - Board of Finance (live coverage cable channel 79, AT&T channel 99, and westportct.gov)

See more events:  Celebrate Westport Calendar


01/07/15 12:05 AM Comments Closed • Permalink

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

LWV Hosts ‘Pie & Politics’

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Pizza pie was the pie tonight as the League of Women Voters of Westport hosted its annual “Pie & Politics” session at the Red Barn Restaurant with local legislators, including (l-r) state Sen. Tony Hwang, state Rep. Gail Lavielle, state Rep. Jonathan Steinberg, and state Sen. Toni Boucher. Transportation, roads, tolls, bridges, and housing, especially state statute 8-30g, were among the topics discussed. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Phyllis Groner for WestportNow.com


01/06/15 10:45 PM Comments () • Permalink

RTM Approves Changes to Police and Fire Pensions

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RTM member Jack Klinge addresses tonight’s meeting as Human Resources Director Ralph Chetcuti listens.  (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

Westport’s Representative Town Meeting (RTM) tonight unanimously approved technical changes to the Fire and Police departments’ defined pension plans.

Human Resources Director Ralph Chetcuti presented the requests necessitated to update the plans to conform to government regulations.

Prior to the first vote, RTM member Jack Klinge said that he hoped it would be the last of the RTM’s defined benefits votes, as the town has moved toward defined, 401K contributions instead of defined benefits for employees.

The plans run through 2016, at which time the town is expected to request wholesale changes to the plans. Copies are available in the Finance Department office.


01/06/15 08:32 PM Comments () • Permalink

Snowy Compo

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Westport’s Compo Beach was deserted today as a light snow fell and temperatures hovered around 20. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Bob Eckman for WestportNow.com


01/06/15 04:54 PM Comments () • Permalink

Tarry Yellow

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Tarry Lodge, 30 Charles St., and its delivery car made a colorful scene with a dusting of snow in Westport today. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Lynn U. Miller for WestportNow.com


01/06/15 04:41 PM Comments () • Permalink

Driver in I-95 Double Fatal Faces 15 Years in Prison

A Bridgeport man faces up to 15 years in prison after accepting a plea deal in a double fatal crash on the Westport stretch of I-95 three years ago, The Hour of Norwalk said.

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State police said the vehicle rolled over multiple times before ending up in the embankment near Maple Avenue. Contributed photo

Jamain Allen, 35, on Monday entered pleas of nolo contendere—meaning he does not dispute or admit the charges but accepts punishment—in Norwalk Superior Court to charges of vehicular manslaughter, second-degree assault with a motor vehicle, operation of a motor vehicle while under the influence and operating a motor vehicle with a suspended license, the report said

He faces a minimum of seven years and maximum of 15 years in prison and also will serve five years of probation after his prison sentence is completed. He will be sentenced on March 9, the newspaper said.

State police said Allen was intoxicated and high on marijuana when he crashed his fiancee Jennifer Shaver’s 2005 Nissan Altima while driving at a high rate of speed north on I-95 near Maple Avenue in Westport south of exit 19 on New Year’s Day 2012. (See WestportNow Jan. 1, 2012)

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01/06/15 04:27 PM Comments () • Permalink

Comings & Goings: The Textiles Stores Closing

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After 75 years in business, 55 at its current Westport location, The Textile Stores, 415 Post Road East in the Compo Shopping Center, will close at the end of February, according to Lori Yanell (above), daughter of owner Marty Yanell. She is the granddaughter of founder Samuel Unofsky who, she said, started the business in South Norwalk in 1940.  Yanell said, “We’re following in the path of Silver’s—the rents have gone just too high.”  Describing how long she has been associated with the business she said, “I was practically born in the back of the store.” (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com


01/06/15 04:12 PM Comments () • Permalink

Residents Take Aim at Development of White Barn Preserve

By James Lomuscio

In freezing temperatures and falling snow, a small group of die-hard preservationists gathered today at the White Barn Preserve at 78 Cranbury Road on the Norwalk-Westport border to save property that up until recently they had thought was safe from high-density, housing development.

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A developer plans to put 21 homes on the White Barn property on the Westport-Norwalk border. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

Not so.

At issue for the 10 persons from Norwalk and Westport, who were joined by state Rep. Gail Lavielle, who serves both towns, is the New Canaan-based Fieber Group’s Plans to put in 21, 3,800-square-foot homes on the 15-acre property, 5.5 acres of which has conservation easements.

Fieber, under the name of Special Properties II, LLC, has applied to the City of Norwalk for a special permit to construct a “conservation development.”

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01/06/15 03:31 PM Comments () • Permalink

Going Down: 8 Jennings Court

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The house at 8 Jennings Court, off Bayberry Lane, was demolished today.  Built in 1960, the one-story split had 1,736 square feet, was situated on a 1.06-acre property and changed ownership in October for $1.1 million. It was the WestportNow Teardown of the Day on Oct., 3, 2014. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com


01/06/15 03:00 PM Comments () • Permalink

Staples Coach Suspended After Fight Outside Bar

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David Bernstein: suspended. Fairfield Police photo

Staples High School has suspended wrestling coach David Bernstein after he was arrested Saturday following a fight outside a Fairfield bar, The Hour of Norwalk reported.

Staples Athletic Director Marty Lisevick said Jesse Koproski, an assistant coach, will take over.

“He has been suspended pending the outcome of the investigation,” Lisevick said.

Bernstein, 27, of Fairfield, who also had an outstanding warrant in Bridgeport on a motor vehicle charge, was released after posting a $500 bond.


01/06/15 02:22 PM Comments () • Permalink

Steinberg Named Majority Whip at Large

At the start of his third term serving Westport, state Rep. Jonathan P. Steinberg Monday was named Majority Whip at Large, in addition to receiving several committee assignments.

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Jonathan Steinberg: gets committee assignments. Contributed photo

Speaker of the House Brendan Sharkey (D-Hamden) named Steinberg, a Democrat representing the 136th District, to the Transportation, Finance Revenue & Bonding, Energy and Technology, and Government Administration & Elections Committees.

He is new to the Government Administration and & Elections Committee. He is no longer on the Aging Committee, and he is no longer a vice chair of the Energy and Technology Committee, according to the new assignments.

“As a leader within our caucus, Rep. Steinberg has the experience and ability to help improve the quality of life for everyone in Connecticut, while at the same time representing the interests of the families of Westport,” Sharkey said. “Jonathan will play a key role in moving our legislative agenda forward this session.”

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01/06/15 01:39 PM Comments () • Permalink

Real Estate Report: A Look Back and Forward

By Judy Szablak

Ask many of the real estate agents in Westport about 2014, and they will tell you, “business was down.” 

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Featured Home: This home at 6 Harbor Road is listed at $2,395,000. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Photo courtesy of William Raveis Southport/Snyder & Pritchard Homes

While that may hold true for overall units sold, the sales price for new construction saw a double digit increase on average, and that’s according to statistics gleaned from the Greater Fairfield County Multiple Listing Service. 

Existing home sales remained relatively the same price-wise with no loss of equity.

The highest priced sale in 2014 was at 4 Charmers Landing for $7.6 million, and 20 Wassell Lane sold for the lowest price in town at just $185,000.

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01/06/15 12:39 PM Comments () • Permalink

Downtown Master Plan Draft: Looks Good, but Not Final

By James Lomuscio

Melissa Kane, who heads Westport’s Downtown Steering Committee (DSC), said today she is pleased with the direction of the long awaited, downtown master plan draft submitted by outside consultant RBA Group, Inc.—but there’s still work to be done.

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Melissa Kane reminds tonight’s RTM meeting of the “open house” on the draft plan on Wednesday, Jan 28 from 4 to 9 p.m. at Town Hall. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

“It certainly isn’t 100 percent there yet, but it definitely seems to represent a lot of what Wetsporters have been talking about for the past nine months,” Kane said. “RBA is really trying to come up with a vision for the downtown, a Westport for the future that maintains a lot of what we love about the past. That’s the direction we’re going.

“There are certainly changes to be made, but I’m pleased,” she added.

In addition to the DSC poring over the draft, the Planning and Zoning Commission (P&Z) will review it in a scheduled work session Jan. 15. The DSC also plans a public, open house at Town Hall from 4 to 9 p.m. on Jan. 28. Meanwhile, the public can comment on the website where the draft will be posted.

More "Downtown Master Plan Draft: Looks Good, but Not Final"


01/06/15 12:28 PM Comments () • Permalink

Downtown Steering Committee Hears Draft Plan

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The Westport Downtown Steering Committee met today to consider a draft of the Downtown Master Plan prepared by the RBA Group. Among the suggestions was a new Library Lane connecting Jesup Road to the Westport Library and potentially expanding it over a new vehicular bridge to the Imperial Avenue parking lot. Details of the draft will be posted to www.downtownwestportct.com. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com


01/06/15 12:03 PM Comments () • Permalink

Snow Running

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The cold and snowy weather today did not deter Westporters Maureen Lynch (l) and Karen Jacobs from their daily jog along Compo Road South.  Jacobs, who completed the Boston Marathon in 2014, said she is training for her participation once again this year, scheduled for April 20.  Lynch, self-described as Jacobs’ training partner, said, “We run a variety of distances together about five days a week.” The women said they had about a half mile to go on their six-mile run today.  “It’s great weather for running except you have to watch for ice patches,” Jacobs said. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com


01/06/15 11:53 AM Comments () • Permalink

Malloy Activates Severe Cold Weather Protocol

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy today announced he has activated the state’s Severe Cold Weather Protocol in anticipation of temperatures in the teens and single digits and wind chills below zero over the next few days and nights.

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There was a dusting of snow today in Westport with temperatures in the low 20s as Malloy activated the severe cold weather protocol. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Lynn U. Miller for WestportNow.com

The protocol is effective beginning today and will remain in effect through Saturday.

“We must continue to protect the most vulnerable during these severe cold weather outbreaks,” said Malloy.  “I urge anyone in need of shelter to call 2-1-1 and encourage local communities to consider opening warming centers or other facilities to assist people in need.”

While activated, the protocol directs the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection (DESPP), the Department of Social Services (DSS), the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (DMHAS), and the Department of Housing (DOH) to coordinate with 2-1-1 and Connecticut’s network of shelters to ensure that the state’s most vulnerable populations are protected from the severe cold weather.

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01/06/15 10:45 AM Comments () • Permalink

Three Held for Passing Counterfeit Money

Westport Police Monday night arrested three out-of-state suspects for passing counterfeit $100 bills at Stop & Shop and two Walgreens locations in town and for the possession a large number of bogus bills, police said.

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Held for passing bogus bills: (l-r) Leslie Canales, Anthony Canales, and Jada Robles. Westport Police photos

Arrested were Anthony Canales, 27,  and Leslie Canales, 24, of the Bronx, and Jada Robles, 22, of Newark, N.J.

Each is currently being held in lieu of a $50,000 bond, facing 24 counts of first-degree forgery, 24 counts of first-degree conspiracy to commit forgery, two counts of sixth-degree larceny and two counts of conspiracy to commit sixth-degree larceny.

According to Lt. Eric Woods, a Stop & Shop employee at 1790 Post Road East encountered a male suspect attempting to pass a counterfeit $100 bill at about 7:45 p.m. The suspect then left the store, proceeding in a vehicle to Walgreens nearby at 1870 Post Road East.

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01/06/15 07:46 AM Comments () • Permalink

Cold and Getting Colder

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Sub-freezing temperatures were the norm early today in Westport. And forecasters said to prepare for even colder weather later in the week. View is on Post Road East. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Bob Eckman for WestportNow.com


01/06/15 07:38 AM Comments () • Permalink

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

8 a.m. - Town Hall Room 201 - TEAM Westport
8:45 a.m. - Town Hall Room 309 - Muncipal Employee Pension Plan
9:30 a.m. - Town Hall Room 201/201A - Downtown Steering Committee Special Work Session
10 a.m. - 4 p.m. - Westport Historical Society - “Saugatuck @Work” & “Framing Saugatuck”
10 a.m. - 5 p.m. - Westport Arts Center - “Perception Illusion MAGIC”
10 a.m. - Westport Library - Book Chat
Noon - Town Hall Room 309 - Arts Advisory Committee
1 p.m. - Westport Library - Writing 101: Introductory Course for Fiction & Non-fiction
2 p.m. - Westport Library - WestportREADS Movie: “James Joyce: So This is Dyoublong?”
4 p.m. - 6 p.m. - Westport Library - Drop-in Tech Help
6 p.m. - Westport Library - Business Special: Setting Goals & Staying on Track
7 p.m. - Terrain (561 Post Road East) - WestportREADS 2015 Dine Around Town: Dublin! at Terrain
7:30 p.m. - Town Hall Auditorium - Representative Town Meeting Public Hearing (live coverage cable channel 79, AT&T channel 99, and westportct.gov)

See more events:  Celebrate Westport Calendar


01/06/15 12:05 AM Comments Closed • Permalink

Monday, January 05, 2015

Bundled Up

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Westporter Craig Davidson is bundled up for the cold weather as he walks on Comoo Beach today with Sachel, 15, a “pure bred mutt.” Temperatures tonight dipped into the upper teens with a wind chill reading of 7. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com


01/05/15 09:24 PM Comments () • Permalink

Landon Proposes $113.29M Budget, Up 3.75%

Westport Schools Superintendent Elliott Landon tonight presented to the Board of Education a $113,294,493 proposed budget for 2015-16, a 3.75 percent increase over this year’s operating budget.

Landon said essential drivers of the increase were recommended instructional plans and programs “and our facilities needs, consistent with board goals and the recommendations of NESC (Northeast Education Services Cooperative).”

The school board plans to spend all of Wednesday poring over the proposed budget, the first step in a lengthy process that will involve Board of Education and Board of Finance reviews and approvals, and finally a Representative Town Meeting vote in the spring

“I think is an excellent first step,” said Michael Gordon, board chairman, who called Landon’s budget “academically forward looking and responsible fiscally.”

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01/05/15 08:12 PM Comments () • Permalink

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