Letters to the editor
Published 1:02 am, Friday, June 25, 2010
Do we limit choice?
It certainly isn't a surprise to read that local restaurateur's are concerned about an influx of new dinning choices in Westport. I mean really, why would they support more competition? Current zoning laws have created an unusually restrictive dining environment which has had the net effect of creating barriers to entry and limited choices for consumers.
I can understand why current restaurant operators want the rules to remain the same. But do we limit choice to protect them? No one guaranteed them that when they signed their leases that the rules would never change. Businesses make these calculations every day. This zoning change would benefit many at the expense of few. More choice is always preferable, in fact it has been shown that clusters of restaurants, stores, etc., create more foot traffic and greater revenue opportunities for all businesses.
Running a profitable restaurant is difficult business, but is it in the business plan to artificially limit competition? Perhaps some current operators did sign long term leases. I am sure they fear that new competition will reduce revenue thus reducing profits. But they must consider that there is the possibility that we draw more diners from neighboring towns, or keep our own citizens eating locally.
Current owners request that we "table" the vote until people are made aware of what exactly? That Westport residents want more options, and better prices closer to home? I don't really think you need an impact study for that. Deliver great food at a reasonable price in a desired destination and put that on the "table" please.
Learn more about
Are you drinking recycled wastewater? Sure ... everyone is! In fact, some of our water comes straight from an aquifer, right under the town of Westport. That is why all of us, but especially those of us who use septic systems, must do what we can to keep our water clean. And close to 60 percent of Westport households have septic systems.
The Septic Education Task Force, appointed by Westport's First Selectman Gordon Joseloff, has been working hard over the past year to develop and disseminate information about septic systems. A brochure was recently mailed to all households with septic systems. It talks about care and maintenance of a septic system, how it works and why we should care. Watch for it in your mailbox!
This issue is important to all of us, not just adults. In fact, when student filmmakers from Staples High School were approached to make a "mocumentary," they jumped at the opportunity! Experts in the field were interviewed, a story was woven, and the result, Pump It Up Baby, was premiered at the Eco-fest in May, to great accolades. Look for additional showings in the future, on your local TV station, and elsewhere.
To see how a system works, there is even a septic model that demonstrates the route water takes through a septic system. This will be on display at the town's Wakeman Farm across from Wakeman Fields this summer and you are welcome to visit from 2-7 p.m. on Thursdays.
Members of the Septic Education Task force have been hitting the pavement, educating the public at meetings, on the radio and at public events. Look out for our educational materials and presentations as this educational effort continues into the fall.
Pippa Bell Ader
Member, Septic Education Task Force,
Since 1984, Miller has been active in United Way, the Green's Farms Congregational Church and also the host of the kickoff dinner for the Staples football team for many years. She is unique and very special as the town she has found to call home. It should be noted that the profits from "Marathon of Changes: The Radical Transformation of a Baby Boomer" will be donated to the victims of the BP oil spill and the ABC House here in Westport. The book is available is amazon.com and barnes&noble.com.
`Chip off the old block'
I have had the good fortune of knowing the Miller family for nearly forty years now and it was nice to see Jo Ann Miller received some notoriety (Westport News, June 18).
Her father, Lt. Gen. Thomas H. Miller, was no ordinary Marine pilot. Not only did he compete in two wars with Sen. John Glenn for the "best dang fighter pilot in the Marine Corps," but also headed up Marine Aviation during the Vietnam War. He is one of only two pilots to fly combat missions in World War II, Korea and Vietnam. He was recently inducted in the Aviation Hall of Fame in Pensacola, Florida along with Neil Armstrong.
Jo Ann is a "chip of the old block" with her father's determination and her mother's good looks. The book is a treasure and thanks for giving it some splash.
Accepted nuisance or critical need?
Like many of the residents of Westport and Weston, we cherish Compo Beach. Much of the reason we suffer through the winter and commute to New York City is for the excellent education but also where else can you take a vacation each weekend and go to the beach.
This Father's Day, like many others, we did the same. We invited my in-laws who also have small kids and headed out to the beach. I always wondered why Westport does not rake the beach clean of the rocks and broken shells like Fairfield, but was told it was to preserve the "natural state" of the beach. Knowing this, I always gauge my "swimming footwear" based on low tide and high tide to know if I have to negotiate the rocks (which do hurt my feet) to enter the water.
This weekend was no different. I saw where I thought the rocks were and instructed all the kids how to get in. Unfortunately, broken shells must have been swept in from shore and both of my nephews cut their feet. Gabriel, a brave 4-year-old, was taken to the first aid room by my brother-in-law who just happens to be a doctor. The first aid room was fantastic, staffed by two competent people who took such good care that my brother-in-law never once said I'm a doctor (which I would do, just to set the standard).
What I noticed while I was there was that there was a steady stream of kids coming in all with the same injury as Gabe's. Each child was crying in a different pitch and each with a concerned parent, a few coming back a second time. Even Gabe's brother cut himself as well, but he seemed to just accept it as part of the price of enjoying such a great day at the beach. The first aid care was great but really should be unnecessary. With such a great facility why are we not just cleaning it up a bit?
So my letter is more soul searching of whether I should become a part-time activist to save the children's cut feet of Westport, Weston and our weekend guests. It is one of those things that just makes sense but maybe has a silent voice because it's an accepted nuisance more than a critical need.
Later today I found out Gabe did not need a stitch but was walking a little gingerly. Should I become a beach activist? I know that it would be greatly appreciated but I would have thought that someone who is way more qualified and politically savvy would have already started the process.
Opposite of prudential financial decision-making
The recent announcement of a raise for Superintendent of Schools Elliott Landon certainly does bring to mind several pertinent thoughts:
At a time when the economy of the entire country, including Westport, is suffering, Landon was forced to cut $500,000 from his budget request for 2011. At a meeting of the Board of Education on May 24, necessary cuts amounting to $500,000 were approved. Landon was quoted in a local media source as having said: "We are guided by the philosophy that no reduction be made that would impact negatively upon programs and services that directly serve the children attending our schools."
Why do other employees of our schools have to lose their jobs, either get no raise or have to take a cut while Landon actually gets a raise? How is this justifiable?
At a time of serious economic distress in our country, how can we not look to lower the current tax burdens of citizens? The expenses of the public sector should be uniformly trimmed -- with no increases -- in order to create jobs and work to improve our economy. Instead, our school board chooses the irresponsible route of increasing an already large salary (not including the other benefits enjoyed by Landon) flaunting it in the face of hard working teachers and other employees.
This seems to be the exact opposite of prudent financial decision making. And how does this action reconcile with Landon's own statement (quoted above)?
Y is not Westport's sacred cow
Please, please let not the travails of our local Y impose a self-promoting project upon our town of Westport. We need balance in our town.
The intersection at exit 41 (Merritt Parkway) and the Wilton Road, which provides access to the Y's Camp Mahackeno does need improvement for already traffic at this site can be overwhelming. To add more traffic in order to accommodate the Y's regional proposition is an irresponsible intrusion into a residential zone. To offer the Y an alternative at Baron's South open space counters conservation efforts set in place and is ill-advised. Let not the town be bullied.
Keep the Family Y downtown. Perhaps it could incorporate the now-empty old town hall as a convenient extension of its programs--and there is ample parking readily available. Here the Y can add its vitality to the community.
What percentage of Westport residents needs an Olympic pool for their pleasure? The Y already has two pools and there are many private pools in Westport. We already have our beautiful public beaches--and don't forget the pool at Staples High School.
There is wisdom in defining when to put the lid down on development and deviance of zoning regulations.
The Y serves many people in many wonderful capacities, but it is not Westport's sacred cow. Let it take its proper place as an integral part of Westport's civic profile. What's good for the Y is not necessarily good for Westport.
Misleading and destructive tactics
Congressman Jim Himes has voted in the best interest of our nation and our district. After reading the various criticism an article in a local media source, "Himes: I'm an independent voice," I decided to look into the negative claims addressing Himes' fiscal responsibility. The most recent spending bill, penned by a few Democratic House members called for $45 billion in new spending initiatives. At a time in which our country and our state are experiencing great financial turmoil, Himes was able to recognize the crisis and vote against these new expenditures.
He stands by his PAYGO legislation, which states that there will be no new spending without it being matched with spending cuts elsewhere. I noticed that the author of a recent letter to the editor (regarding this article) was a man by the name of Bob MacGuffie. For those who are not aware, MacGuffie is an avid volunteer with the website Tea Party Patriots and has written what he calls a "political action memo" about how to "rock-the-boat" in town hall meetings given by the Democratic congressman, whom he assesses to be following a "socialist" agenda.
MacGuffie's memo advocates for prohibiting productive discussion by "yelling out," and not engage in intelligent debate. He also writes about artificially inflating the size of the opposition to mislead lawmakers and the public.
The fact that this man and others like him are going around trying to surreptitiously inflate their claims and cause ritual destruction, especially at forums meant to deliver vital information and much needed answers to the general public, is disgusting. It is obvious to me that the accusations MacGuffie fabricated in his letter are a continuation of the misleading and destructive tactics that inspired his memo, I just hope that other readers are in tune to this as well.
Lou Ann Giunta