Monday, April 22, 2024


Special Reports

Our New Year’s Gift to Readers

WestportNow Year in Pictures 2015
As in years past, Westport in 2015—the 13th year of publication of WestportNow—saw many changes. Jim Lomuscio documented them in his year in review (see WestportNow Dec. 31, 2015).

WestportNow was there every day 24/7, documenting the big things and little things that make Westport special. You saw stories and photos here that you saw nowhere else, thanks to dozens of contributors to Westport’s only locally owned news source. Image
A Westport Memorial Day parade picture by WestportNow contributing photographer Lynn U. Miller showing Little Leaguer Grant Mandel, 7, greeting Westport veteran Larry Aasen was the opening image on the “ABC World News Tonight With David Muir” story on Memorial Day celebrations around the country. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Lynn U. Miller for

We are deeply grateful for an always-growing readership that has made us Westport’s No.1 place to go for news about our community and for news and features of special interest to Westporters. We urge you to support our advertisers who help make this all possible.

As is our tradition, our New Year’s gift to readers is a photo (and occasional news story) review of the past year. Entries include major events, and some not so major. But they were all part of life in Westport in 2015. To enjoy, CLICK HERE. Happy New Year!

Westport 2015 Year in Review: A Year of Change

By James Lomuscio

As the New Year is ushered in on Friday, it seems that ringing out the old and ringing in the new in Westport could not have more relevance and bittersweet poignancy.

WestportNow Year in Review 2015

From the loss of beloved citizens to the moving on of equally beloved town employees and educators to last calls at landmark restaurants to the loss of a longtime, after school bus service and the shooting down of a seven-year planned senior housing complex, the town had more than its share of change.

At the same time, there were a number of new beginnings, including the reopening of the historic Saugatuck Congregational Church to the start of the Bedford Square project to the completion and initial undertaking of a Downtown Master Plan.

As always, change is inevitable, even in the land of steady habits; however, in Westport the changes always seem to be tempered with deference to the town’s historic character.

Part 5: Senior Housing Needs, Plans and Logjams

(Editor’s note: WestportNow’s special week-long series on seniors and housing concludes today with a look at efforts to add new senior housing to Westport and current options open to seniors.)

By James Lomuscio

The need for senior housing in Westport, whether affordable, market rate, and/or with an assisted living component, has confounded Westport officials for years. Image
There is a waiting list of almost 300 for 21 remaining units under construction at the Westport Housing Authority’s Sasco Creek Village, 1655 Post Road East, according to Executive Director Carol Martin. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for

It has become a flash point, however, for the current Planning and Zoning (P&Z) Commission.

Chairman Chip Stephens, 60, has said repeatedly that he is not against more senior housing in Westport. On the contrary, he says it is a need that has to be addressed, but by private developers and on private land, not town-owned land.

In fact, he says this need is behind formation of the P&Z Senior Housing Committee co-chaired by P&Z Vice Chairman Jack Whittle, 52, and member Catherine Walsh, 60. To date, the committee has had two meetings.

Part 4:  ‘Heart-Wrenching ’ Move to Darien

(Editor’s note: WestportNow’s special series on seniors and housing today focuses on longtime Westporters who moved to Darien in search of housing to meet their needs.)

By James Lomuscio

Richard Leonard, 85, moved with his parents to Westport in 1946. He was just 15 but commuted daily on the 6:30 a.m. train to New York, so he could finish up at St. John’s Prep in Astoria, Queens. Image
Dick and Paula Leonard at their new home in Darien. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) James Lomuscio for

Paula Leonard moved with her parents to Westport in 1952, graduating from Staples High School that year.

It wasn’t long before the two met and began dating.

In 1957, after four years as a Navy pilot during the Korean Conflict, he and Paula married, settling into their first home on Lone Pine Lane, then Ludlowe Road and eventually Orchard Lane.

Part 3: After 32 Years and Service, Priced Out of Westport

(Editor’s note: WestportNow’s special series on seniors and housing today focuses on a well known couple who had hoped to continue living in Westport but finally decided to move to Charleston, South Carolina.)

By James Lomuscio

Steve Rubin, 71, and his wife Toni, 69, moved to Westport 32 years ago. They lived at Hidden Brook, an affordable apartment community off Post Road East run by the Westport Housing Authority (WHA). They raised their only child, a daughter, there.

Steve and Toni Rubin
Steve and Toni Rubin in Charleston, South Carolina with their 5-year-old Havanese named Sam. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Contributed photo

Today, the Rubins are grandparents and live in Charleston, South Carolina where Steve says it’s much more affordable and winter weather is a breeze. He says they fell in love with Charleston’s charm after visiting on their way back from Florida a couple of years ago.

They kept visiting, each time for a longer stay and eventually moved down Columbus Day weekend 2014. They live in the West Ashley section of Charleston near the Ashley River.

“Since we moved here, three other Westport couples have called me, saying they’d love to move to Charleston,” Rubin said. “We all seem to agree it’s going to become a club of ex-Westporters.

Part 2: Seniors Who Have Reluctantly Left Westport

(Editor’s note: WestportNow’s special series on seniors and housing today focuses on seniors who have left Westport but wish they could have stayed.)

By James Lomuscio

Like many Westport residents, they came to town for the schools, but they stayed for the community and all it offered. And they wanted to spend the rest of their lives here surrounded by friends, familiarity, and a love of place.

Westport seniors have taken up new lives at The Watermark in Bridgeport and Meadow Ridge in Redding. (Click upper right corner arrows to enlarge) Dave Matlow for

But now in their 70s through 90s, they live elsewhere—Redding, Bridgeport, Darien, even as far as Charleston, S.C.—to name a few.

They say they did not want to leave Westport, but the lack of adequate senior housing, whether affordable or not, was a driving force.

Some say they had hoped Westport would join the ranks of many other Fairfield County towns with its own senior housing complex, 60 percent of the units affordable, near the downtown on Baron’s South. Such a complex had been on the drawing boards for seven years, the subject of many meetings of town boards and commissions.

Part 1: Seniors Feel ‘Pushed to the Side’

(Editor’s note: WestportNow today begins a special series on seniors and housing in Westport. Future installments will cover those who have left Westport and the current state of senior housing in town.)

By James Lomuscio

Nick Berardi, 83, and his wife Josephine, 84, have lived in Westport for 51 years. They raised their children here, made a number of longtime friends and enjoyed the community’s many offerings. They couldn’t think of a better place to spend the rest of their lives. Image
Westport seniors in housing dilemma: (l-r)  Nick Berardi, 83, Neil Hardy, 86, and wife, Judy, 80. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Denise Puskas for

But now, their home is on the market. And memories of relaxing days at Compo Beach and starlit evenings at the Levitt Pavilion for the Performing Arts will be just that, memories.

“It’s the cost,” said Berardi, a retired accountant. “The taxes, the utilities, the repairs, the maintenance. It’s the upkeep of your house.

“My wife especially wants to stay in Westport,” he added. “We figured we’d sell our house and look for rentals with two bedrooms, $1,500 a month, but you can’t find anything for $1,500. As a last resort, we’d move to Florida, but it’s too hot for 12 months of the year, and we like the amenities here.”

Our New Year’s Gift to Readers Year in Pictures 2014

Westport in 2014—the 12th year of publication of WestportNow—saw many changes, as documented in Jim Lomuscio’s comprehensive review of the year (see WestportNow Dec. 30, 2014). Image
An Osprey swooped down into the Saugatuck River near Longshore Club Park in May 2014 and was rewarded with a Memorial Day holiday weekend takeout meal. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Mark Molesworth for

And every day, 24/7, WestportNow was there, often exclusively, just as we have been since 2003. We are deeply grateful for a still growing readership that has made WestportNow Westport’s No.1 news source.

As the only locally owned daily news source, we are also deeply grateful for the local advertising support received and urge you to patronize our advertisers—and tell them you saw them on WestportNow.

As is our tradition, our New Year’s gift to readers is a photo review of the past year. Entries include major events, and some not so major. But they were all part of life in Westport in 2014. To enjoy, CLICK HERE. Happy New Year!

Change—Current and Future—Consumed Westport in 2014

By James Lomuscio

Every year is marked by change, but in Westport, current and planned change came at fever pitch in 2014. Image
The opening of the new Levitt Pavilion for the Performing Arts was one of Westport’s top stories of 2014. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Contributed photo

Several time-honored, mom and pop businesses integral the town’s identity either shut their doors or moved from their storied, if not legendary, locations.

Several prominent individuals whose service epitomized town spirit died, each one leaving heroic example, as well as a hole, behind.

New beginnings marked 2014, from Church Lane’s redevelopment to the new Levitt Pavilion for the Performing Arts and the finally relocated Westport Weston Family Y.

Remembering Richard C. Hottelet, CBS News

By Gordon Joseloff

Richard C. Hottelet, my personal link to the legendary group of CBS News correspondents who covered World War II under Edward R. Murrow, died today at his Wilton home. He was 97. Image
Richard C. Hottelet: “consummate professional.”  (CLICK TO ENLARGE) CBS News photo

Hottelet was the last survivor of the group that became known as the “Murrow Boys. He joined CBS in London in 1944 and retired in 1985.

I first met him in the late 1970s. He was covering the United Nations for CBS but did an hourly network radio newscast daily before heading over to his U.N. office. I often wrote his hourly newscast for him.

I had joined CBS News a short time earlier after working for United Press International in outposts that included London and Moscow. Hottelet had worked for UPI’s predecessor, United Press, in London, Moscow, Berlin, and Washington.