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Robert D. Skinner, 87

Robert D. Skinner of Inverness, Fla., a former Westport detective technician, died March 3 at Arbor Trail Rehab in Inverness. He was 87.

Born Oct. 22, 1924, in Saugatuck, he was the son of Efred and Catherine Skinner. He was a detective technician for the Westport Police Department and was president of the Police Benevolent Association (PBA) in Westport. He also worked at the Westport Bank & Trust Co. as director of purchasing.

He moved to Inverness in 1994 where he enjoyed golf, bowling, and was an avid supporter of Citrus High School sports.

Survivors include his wife, Miriam Skinner, of Inverness; five children, Mark J. Skinner and wife, Jan, of Denver, N.C., Robert H. Skinner and wife, Joann, of Reston, Va., John H. Skinner of Fairfield, William F. Skinner of Denver, N.C., and Deborah Ann Skinner of Inverness; and eight grandchildren, Catherine, Sarah, Amber, John Patrick, Annalisa, Bradly, Kelly and Erica.

Suit Filed in Stew Leonard Sr. Boating Accident Death

UPDATE The wife of a 73-year-old former Westporter who died after being swept off Stew Leonard Sr.‘s boat by a 12-foot-high “rogue wave” in the Caribbean last summer today filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Leonard and his son Tom.

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The 70-foot Stew’s Special which was hit by a “rogue wave.” (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Contributed photo

Attorneys representing Barbara Speranza, wife of Robert Speranza, told reporters in New Haven today that the suit was filed in Bridgeport Superior Court. They said she is seeking compensatory and punitive damages in the “millions of dollars,” according to a statement.

“Barbara was just not able to get any anwers as to exactly what happened so she said I’ve got to take the next step –- I’ve got to find out what happened to my husband of 53 years because she has been devastated,” said Joel T. Faxon of Stratton Faxon Law Firm, who is representing Speranza.

Shortly after the Aug. 16, 2011 accident, Westporter Stew Leonard Jr. said that his family has been devastated by the loss of their longtime friend. “My father is in shock,” he said, “and I know Bob Speranza’s family is in shock.” (See WestportNow Aug. 19, 2011)

Temporary Home of Saugatuck Nursery School Dedicated

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A celebration took place today at The First Church of Christ, Scientist. 55 Compo Road South, for the new temporary home of the Saugatuck Nursery School. The Nov. 20, 2011 fire at the Saugatuck Congregational Church displaced the school which was co-founded in 1968 by Westporter Patti Doolittle and Florence James who recently died. Pictured (l-r) are Celia Lowenberg, board vice-chair; Linda Ross, assistant superintendent and Sunday school teacher; Patti Doolittle; Ellen DeHuff, school director; Marshal Root, treasurer, and Mary Flynn, Sunday School superintendent. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

WestportNow Teardown of the Day: 8 Lowlyn Road

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An application for a permit to demolish the house at Westport’s 8 Lowlyn Road, between Partrick Road and Crawford Road, is in process. Built in 1952, the two-story contemporary has 2,575 square feet and is situated on a 1.17-acre property.  Because the house was built more than 50 years ago, the application will be reviewed by the Westport Historic District Commissione. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

Wednesday, March 7, 2012


8:30 a.m. – Town Hall Room 309 – Plan Implementation Committee
10 a.m. – Town Hall Room 201 – UN Hospitality Committee
10 a.m. – 5 p.m. – Westport Arts Center – “Toy Stories”
10 a.m. – 4 p.m. – Westport Historical Society – “Next Stop: Westport!” & “The Cold War in Our Backyard”
Noon – Westport Public Library – “When She Woke,” Hillary Jordan
Noon – Toquet Hall – Play With Your Food lunchtime theater
2 p.m. – Longshore Club Park – Golf Course Halfway House Groundbreaking Ceremony
6:15 p.m. – Room 309 – Shellfish Commission
7 p.m. – Town Hall Green Room – Board of Assessment Appeals
7:30 p.m. – Town Hall Room 201 – Flood & Erosion Control Board
7:30 p.m. – Town Hall Room 201A – Board of Finance Special Budget Work Session
7:30 p.m. – Westport Public Library – Parenting for College Success: Myth vs. Reality
8 p.m. – Town Hall Auditorium – Board of Finance Public Hearing (live coverage cable channel 79, AT&T channel 99, and westportct.gov)

See more events:  Celebrate Westport Calendar

RTM Approves Joining New Council of Goverments

By James Lomuscio

With a 28-1 Representative Town Meeting (RTM) vote tonight, Westport became the first municipality in its eight-town region to approve changing from a Regional Planning Agency (RPA) to a Council of Government (COG) system that First Selectman Gordon Joseloff had touted as more efficient and giving the region a stronger voice in Hartford.

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Floyd Lapp, executive director of the South Western Regional Planning Agency (SWRPA), addresses the Representative Town Meeting (RTM) tonight as First Selectman Gordon Joseloff looks on.  (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

A total of five municipalities must approve the change before it can take effect. The RTM vote included a “sunset clause” that the authorization expires at the end of this RTM term, Nov. 19, 2013, a provision which produced more debate than the main issue itself.

The vote—with only Catherine Calise, Disgtrict 2 opposed—followed a presentation from Joseloff and a due diligence report from Floyd Lapp, executive director of the South Westwen Regional Planning Agency (SWRPA) to which Westport belongs along with Greenwich, Stamford, Darien, New Canaan, Wilton, Norwalk and Weston.

Fifteen RPAs were established in the state during the 1960s to deal with transportation and regional planning issues after Connecticut abandoned a county government system in 1960. Since then, 12 of the remaining 14 regions have opted to change to a COG or Council of Elected Officials (COE) setups, citing that the new structures were more streamlined and efficient that RPAs.

Yankees Great Bobby Richardson Visits Westport

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New York Yankees second base star Bobby Richardson, 76, signs a souvenir photograph today for John Agostino, 22, of Greenwhich at Legends of the Game sports memorabilia at 1765 Post Road East as owner Mike Riccio, Sr. looks on.  Richardson played on seven Yankees World Series teams from 1957 to 1964. A resident of South Carolina, his birthplace, he is in the Westport area to be the keynote speaker Wednesday at a St. Vincent’s Hospital Foundation event at the Holiday Inn in Bridgeport. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

Real Estate Report: Condo Market Struggling

By Judy Szablak

Westport’s condominium market is struggling. Unusually low activity over the past few months signals an uncertain year ahead for this segment of the market. It possibly may be the worst year for condo sales in over a decade.

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This single family home at 75 Old Hill Road is listed for $1,998,000. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Photo courtesy of Coldwell Banker/Westport

Prices are currently at 2001 levels. Sales peaked in 2007 with 41 units sold, and they had an average purchase price of $768,676.  While last year looked promising for volume with 35 sales reported through our MLS system, the average sale price was just $507,742. There have only been three closed sales this year.

The lack of sales is most likely due to the selection of single-family homes that are available in comparable price ranges. These seem to be preferred among today’s buyers.

There also is certainly a lack of available inventory to choose from, and that also contributes to lackluster sales performance. Buyers are out this year and are still considering condominiums. But they need a compelling reason to purchase a condo rather than a single family house.

RV Birdhouse on Thursday’s Birdhouse Stroll

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Among Project Return birdhouses in Westport stores to be featured on Thursday’s Birdhouse Stroll down Main Street is this one called “Canned Ham.” It is in the window of the Loft at 17 Main St. Created by Dick and Marilee Reilly of Norwalk, the couple said the work’s name is an endearing term used to describe the smaller camper trailers, made popular in the 1940s and 1950s. The Birdhouse Stroll takes place following a 6 p.m. reception at Spruce Home & Garden shop in Westport’s Old Town Hall, 90 Post Road East. The birdhouses promote the 17th annual Project Return Art of the Birdhouse Auction on Friday, March 23 from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. at the Rolling Hills Country Club in Wilton. Westport-based Project Return celebrates its 26th year of service to adolescent girls and young women in crisis. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com