Monday, March 20, 2023



Dozen House Democrats Vow New Drive for Tolls Despite Rocky Road

By Keith M. Phaneuf and Jscqueline Rabe Thomas

A dozen House Democratic legislators pledged today to propose a bill in the upcoming legislative session to establish electronic tolling throughout highways in Connecticut — a pitch that has been made numerous times in recent years but has failed to win approval.

The measure would empower the Department of Transportation to establish tolls, which eventually would become the chief source of revenue for the Special Transportation Fund. The fund’s chief sources of revenue now are fuel taxes.

Proponents of tolls say the investment is necessary to bail out the fund that supports transportation construction projects, and dismissed criticism that the money would just be raided to help cover the state’s operating budget, as has been done in the past.

“I promise you if we do this, this state will thrive,” said state Rep. Tony Guerrera, D-Rocky Hill, the longtime House chair of the legislature’s Transportation Committee.

CT, NY, and NJ to Sue Over Tax Changes That Hit Blue States

By Keith M. Phaneuf

Connecticut will join New York and New Jersey in a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of new federal income tax laws restricting state and local tax deductions, a change that primarily falls on a dozen states that voted against President Trump in 2016.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and his fellow Democratic governors, Andrew Cuomo of New York and Phil Murphy of New Jersey, said today the tax change is a political assault on blue states as well as a defiance of federalist principles that date back to the Republic’s founding.

“This is a dramatic break with the past,” Malloy said during a mid-morning conference call with the other governors. “In so many ways these changes discriminate against our states. … Somebody has to stand up and say, ‘Not at this time. You can’t do this. It is fundamentally unfair and illegal.’”

“We find the philosophy of the tax cut repugnant,” Cuomo said, adding it effectively requires 12 states that voted Democratic in the 2016 elections to finance tax relief for the wealthy in general, but also for other portions of the nation.

Comings & Goings: Whip Salon to Bedford Square Image
UPDATE The Whip Salon and Spa, a full service hair salon, opens at Bedford Square next month, according to owner Amy Pal (above). Pal, a self-described serial entrepreneur, also has operated a Whip Salon for the past 16 months in Ridgefield. She was prior licensee of JoyRide locations in Ridgefield and Wilton, which she operated for two years before selling them to the current owners. An earlier version of this caption erroneously said she was a prior owner of the JoyRide location in Westport. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for

Balducci’s Property Sells for $28 Million

The three-building, 3.47-acre retail complex at 1365 Post Road East, anchored by Balducci’s Food Lover’s Market, has sold for $28 million. Image
The 1365 Post Road East property, bought in 2012 for $18,250,000, sold for $28 million. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) File photo

CapFor Westport LLC, an entity managed by Darien-based Forstone Capital, which bought the property in 2012 for $18,250,000, sold to AP 1365 Post Road East Westport, a Delaware limited partnership based in Charlotte, North Carolina, according to a Town Clerk Office filing.

The 50,795-square-foot property is 95 percent leased, according to broker CBRE. In addition to Balducci’s, it includes Ulta Beauty, moving into space formerly occupied by Anthropologie. Other tenants include Tusk Home, W Hair & Color, Zaniac, and Awareness Technologies. Major improvements were made on the property by the seller.

CBRE represented the seller and procured the buyer, an announcement said.

Comings & Goings: Bel Mondo Relocates to Post Road East Image
Bel Mondo, a home furnishings, accessories and interior design services store, has relocated from 222 Post Road West to 993 Post Road East.  The space was formerly occupied for seven years by Then Again, an upscale women’s consignment store. “We wanted to locate in a cozier environment and this building lends itself to that,” said Australia-born owner Heidi Thrun, a former Westport resident. “And it was good timing with our lease expiration on Post Road West.” (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for

Federal Government Shuts Down, CT to Feel Aftershock

By Ana Radelat

Washington –  Connecticut residents will still get their mail and Social Security checks, but the shutdown of the federal government will reverberate through state agencies – especially those that are most reliant on federal grants and federal workers — and many in the state would eventually feel an impact.

The Malloy administration said it could not immediately assess the impact of the shutdown that began shortly after midnight Friday, a result of the failure of congressional Republicans and Democrats to come to an agreement on how to keep the federal government running.

But the state Office of Management and Policy sent state agency heads a memo Friday afternoon warning a federal shutdown was imminent.

“Connecticut has made preparations to mitigate the impacts of the Trump shutdown as much as possible,” said Gov. Dannel P. Malloy.

An Independent and Democrats Say Tolls Are Necessary

By Mark Pazniokas

Southington — Oz Griebel, a petitioning candidate for governor who once led the state Transportation Strategy Board, told an audience of construction executives and union members today that Connecticut must embrace electronic tolling and higher gasoline taxes to preserve and improve its transportation infrastructure. Image
The transportation session was held in Southington. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Mark Pazniokas for

At a transportation forum for Democratic and unaffiliated candidates, Griebel offered the broadest prescription for how to stabilize and grow a special transportation fund now projected to hit insolvency by 2022, leaving the state unable to borrow money to address a growing backlog of transportation needs.

Many of the Democrats, unlike the Republican field at a similar event a month ago, agreed on the need for the revenue that tolling would bring, while they largely dodged the issue of higher gasoline taxes. Both forums were sponsored by the Connecticut Construction Industries Association.

Malloy, who is expected to share his own transportation funding proposals by month’s end, warned last week that hundreds of capital projects worth $4.3 billion would have to be suspended over the next five years without a rapid infusion of new revenue.

Real Estate Report: Single-Family Home Inventory Minimal

By Judy Szablak

Special to WestportNow

Newly listed single-family home inventory is currently minimal in Westport, which presents opportunities for soon to be sellers, and at the same time presents challenges for buyers who have been looking. Image
Featured Home: This home at 57 Sylvan Road North is listed at $1,269,000. photo courtesy of William Pitt Sotheby’s International — Westport

Seventeen percent of the available 241 properties show on our MLS as being listed for 30 days or less. But in fact, only 18 of these properties are truly new to the marketplace and have not been on the market recently.

Buying or selling a home is a process, and does take time, no matter which side of the transaction that you are on, and some are planning both.

Somehow, inclement weather leads us to focus on the immediate, rather than longer term decisions, and tends to make us think that there is always more opportunity ahead to accomplish what is needed.

Weston, Easton, Redding Newspapers Consolidate News

(Editor’s note: UPDATE This story updates an earlier story that incorrectly stated the Weston Forum, Eastern Courier, and Redding Pilot have been discontinued and consolidated into a new publication, Aspetuck News. The newspapers continue to publish—allbeit with the same content—and the consolidation also impacts their online sites. WestportNow regrets the errors and apologizes to the HAN Network and its readers. For more information, click HERE.)

By James Lomuscio

In another consolidation of local newspapers, Weston, Easton, and Redding readers of those publications are seeing changes in the ways their news is delivered.

While the Weston Forum, the Easton Courier, and the Redding Pilot will continue to be published by Ridgefield-based publisher The HAN Network (formerly Hersam Acorn Newspapers), their online counterparts have been consolidated into what is now called Aspetuck News.

But the consolidation is not just online. The newspapers published Thursday, Jan. 18 also showed the consolidation impacted the newspapers. While each retained their individual banners, the content was identical across the three newspapers.

Martin Hersam, chief executive officer of the company, cited financial reasons.