Tuesday, July 16, 2024


Resident Clear on Opinion of Her Changing Neighborhood

By Dave Matlow

Joan Raymond: “What are they thinking?” Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com
Joan Raymond has lived in Westport’s Saugatuck Shores area for 45 years and is so unhappy with the way the neighborhood is changing that she has erected a new lawn sign outside her house: “Slow: Pre-McMansion Historic District.”

And she has offered to give visitors guided tours of her “vintage house of the Fifties,” no appointment needed, before it becomes a teardown like others around her.

“Westport has changed but you have to expect change,” says the retired dietician whose sign has drawn so much attention, not to mention admiration, from neighbors that she is going back to the printer for more.

“This is happening all over. My son lives in New Jersey and it’s happening there. But it’s not happening on small lots. Is this a fad or will it continue? Will these oversized houses become white elephants?”

Raymond said she is not opposed to McMansions per se. “It’s the small size of the lot that they built on that is the issue,” she said. “We fear that the neighborhood will be become wall-to-wall houses.”

Raymond said recent visitors to her Covlee Drive home wondered about a big house under construction on neighboring Duck Pond Road, asking her, “Are they building condos, a motel?”duckpondhouse06100501.jpg
Visitors ask: “Is it a condo or motel?” (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

“If only these houses were on 2-, 5- or 10-acre lots it would be magnificent,” she said. “But now these houses are falling into the street. What are they thinking?”

Raymond said it frustrates her that while all the gigantic home construction meets Planning and Zoning guidelines, those who want to make changes to their existing homes have to go through a lot of red tape.

“I feel sorry for the poor soul in my neighborhood who wants to make a small modification of his entryway,” she said. “He ends up getting the run-around.”

She said neighbors no longer want to make improvements to their houses because they feel it will be a teardown anyway and that the improvements will not increase the value.joanraymondnote06100501260.jpg
Invitation to guided tour: No appointment needed. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com

Not only has Raymond publicly displayed her feelings through a lawn sign but she has taped a sign to her window offering guided tours of her disappearing lifestyle. It reads:

“Covlee-On-the-Sound Historic Area
“Vintage Houses of the Fifties.
“See them before they all go.
“Guided tours are available. No appointment needed. Meet some original residents.
“See the exhibit of life before tear-downs.
“Don’t delay. They are going, going, going.”

19 thoughts on “Resident Clear on Opinion of Her Changing Neighborhood

  1. No, the new homes won�t become white elephants. What all ready are white elephants are those ugly modern 50s homes (which this lady owns) that are so dated they don’t fit into any towns in the 21st century. It is dubious if any one wants a tour of this home.  These 50’s homes, that are a dying breed, are nothing special, nor are they architecturally significant. This so called anti “McMansion” (a term thrown around way to freely) movement is very trite. Can this small minority give it a rest?  It�s called progress! I marvel at this women�s lack of creativity.

  2. These people need to realize that these new “McMansions” are raising there property value dramatically… I am going to agree with Avery, myself and many others would much rather see a beautiful new construction rather than a poorly built 1950’s “TEARDOWN”… If you don’t like it, SELL!!!

  3. I do not understand the need for the vitriol and personal attacks being spewed forth in this discussion.  It is not necessary to ridicule or denigrate someone in order to express another point of view. 
        It seems to me that the central issue is not architectural skill (or perceived lack thereof) but the sheer size of the structures being built on small lots.  In general, there appears to be no interest in becoming a part of the neighborhood—something which does not require identical architecture to accomplish. 
        Clearly, Ms. Raymond has a sense of humor even though she is not pleased about what is happening to the neighborhood she has held dear for 45 years.

  4. Avery will be crying 10 yrs from now when people say the same thing about its house.  I guess a typical home wil be $1B with 35 rooms and 49 toilets.  How dare someone want to preserve the past. Yes AB a well worded reply.  Are you in high school? NC wait until the housing bubble pops and the kids are at college.  Who is going to but these $2MM monsters with 100k in annual costs?  Have any of you actually gone north of Westport?  I bet you would be shocked.

  5. You seem to have a lot of rage, “iluvtrite”. The fact of the matter is these homes are out of date. I am a mother, but I am not worried about making the so called “100k” in annual costs while the kids are off at school. I don�t think I will be “crying” either because the real estate boom doesn’t have signs of slowing down for high end homes. Most of the newer homes built are traditional in style, and those houses are always desired and timeless.

  6. Yes the boom will not stop. I remember the early 90’s with foreclosures and bank failures and the nasdaq bubble of 2000.  Buy as many homes as you can now it aint’t gonna stop.

  7. I’m surprised at how nasty people are out here. Seems those who would tear and build have some inner issues about it.

    And the new houses have not increased property values, the land itself has, so take a chill and don’t falsely justify your destruction of the character of our neighborhoods. Money isn’t everything.

    The future is unclear. The large houses being built need to be heated and cooled (wasting natural resources) and as the population ages these houses could well become burdons. Maybe you have the money now, maybe you won’t then.

    In the years to come as Saugatuck Shores gets its long needed sewer, larger houses will quickly follow and further erode the character of the area. Diane Farrell has written more than one letter to the P&Z commission urging them to watch and be wary of this this future dynamic.

    I think what Ms. Raymond has done is charming. It’s her house, her property and her neighborhood. Let her stand up for what she believes in.

  8. I agree with Avery; there is nothing historic or vintage about this house. In a town with houses dating to the eighteenth century, a 50-year-old split level doesn�t bear a historic connotation.  Ironically, her home quintessentially represents the post-World War II Levittown-esque suburban sprawl, and as we progress in the twenty-first century, McMansions represent the same thing her house once did.

  9. What happened to the sense of humor and love of creativity that made Westport the great town that it is? I applaud Joan Raymond for her clever and creative way of making a statement (whether you agree with her or not).
    I enjoy this website for providing a varied and informative look at what is going on around town.
    I don’t enjoy the mean-spirited personal attack comments that are posted.
    I embrace the first ammendment and agree that everyone is entitled to an opinion.
    My parents taught me that if you don’t have something nice to say – don’t say anything at all

  10. Joan how much do you want for your teardown, if you do not care about property values I will gladly give you 50K over what you paid 45 years ago.  Or are you going to speak out of both sides of your mouth when it comes time for you to sell!

  11. Karen, you applaud her for creativity? There is nothing wrong with creativity. This is just a hackneyed argument. Sorry I don’t think singing the same old tune is creative in the slightest.

  12. Former Westporter is right; Joan’s house and the McMansions are just different-decade examples of urban sprawl housing. But Elisabeth Keane is also right: Size matters. Joan’s house, though it’s certainly not to my taste, seems to fit the lot it’s on.

    It’s not realistic to think that we can legislate how big or how ugly a house someone can put up, but I do think we need better regulations regarding proportion. A huge house belongs on a huge lot.

  13. It’s a sad day in Westport when houses are being built too large for their lots.  Houses that encroach upon front, back and side setbacks destroy the greenbelt and sense of open space.  The Planning & Zoning Commission needs to act now to enact laws that prevent this loss of character.

  14. Wouldn’t it nice to brag that “I hate living a dated house and I am going to knock it down”  Life must be rough with this type frustration.  My sneakers are old, I think I will throw them out and get new ones.

  15. Everyone has the right to think as they please, but to think that you are right because you have or want one of these big monster houses is wrong.
    I think Avery should go back where she/he came from. Avery, state you case, but don’t be the bully you show yourself to be.

  16. It seems to me that the people in the new houses,are looked down on because they have a new house? WHY? To “too much money” if you have old shoes or sneakers with holes in them, then you should throw them out. If your house is falling apart, then you should fix it or replace it. What is wrong with that? I don’t understand.

  17. GO AVERY-
    Saugatuck shores looks 100% better in the last seven years that I have lived here, and NO I don’t have one of the new houses!!! Point is that Ms. Reynold’s house is NOT a vintage classic charm that she portrays it to be, or that any of you (new house )attackers claim it is. What it is, including all the other left over fifties houses in the neighborhood are builders CHEAP specials ,and no you won’t get as much money for them as you would if you knocked them down!!!!!!!!!!!!! How can anyone say that a 3 million dollar house itself (not including land) is ugly ,sorry doesn’t matter if it fits the lot or not, they are gorgous homes and, not one new home on Saugatuck Shores is a builders special or cheaply built today !!!  What is wrong with changing with the times???? TO- Mr Mandell you are the one with issues, not the people in new houses they are just sick of being attacked because they have a new home. Yes, property value has gone up,but a new house on the island will go for way more than an old nasty dated ranch,and thats a fact!!! worry about heating and cooling your OWN house. Finally I will be knocking my old home down in the near future ,and it can’t happen soon enough ,because I personally hate living in a dated house. I can assure you my new home will be nothing more than, an asset to this neighborhood.

  18. I am appalled at how callous and rude some people are toward Joan Raymond. The rich always bully others to get their way. You can’t build a harmonious community on money. I’m saddened there’s so much arrogance in Westport. I’m equally saddened at how illiterate some of you new rich folk are. Read Jess’ above comments. They’re rife with grammatical and spelling errors that most sixth-graders wouldn’t make. I say before you throw your weight around, get educated, get literate and get a heart.

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