Letters to the editor
Here is the solution to all our current day problems:
Send the inmates in the mental institutions to Congress and send the members of Congress to mental institutions.
Harold Levine's passion for the arts and their benefit for youth are laudatory (Westport News, Dec. 9, "Yes, the arts do make a difference"). It is certainly true that the parents and other supporters of sports programs in our schools are more vocal than supporters of the arts. However, in both Staples and Weston High School there is strong support for the arts by both parents and faculty. In some people's minds, sports programs and programs in the arts are in competition. However, I do not believe that this is actually true. Many students participate in both.
I think it is unfortunate that Mr. Levine's motivation "...is the fact that our children in Westport and Weston get everything they want and need, while the kids just 15 miles away are cheated." The fact that the Bridgeport school district cannot afford to have a program like the Staples Players is not "cheating" Bridgeport students. The word cheat is defined usually as to be deprived of something of value by the use of deceit or fraud. The conditions described by Mr. Levine do not arise as the result of either deceit or fraud.
To gather support for his efforts, Mr. Levine should refrain from pointing out the disparity in conditions and implying that those conditions are the result of some deceit or fraud. Good works like MACH can stand on their own merit and accomplishments.
What good people
It appears that the Westport News, led by its still relatively newest editor, Frances Moore, is truly trying to make a difference for Westport. Among many excellent recent stories is a series of stories by Anthony Karge, which focused upon our "downtown." Those stories have now been followed by Ms. Moore's recent editorial which concludes that "what holds this community [Westport] together is its communal meeting spot down by the river."
There are many views as to what should be done to bring back a vital Westport downtown center along both sides of the Saugatuck River. However, there are few differences as to the importance of that town center, the opportunity that is afforded by the Saugatuck River and the small village quality of Main Street, Myrtle Ave and Elm Street, the presence of our library and the Levitt Pavillion as part of the potentially exciting Jessup Green side of downtown and the Historic Design District on the west side of the Saugatuck highlighted by a spectacular hotel, the Inn at National Hall, and related retail space in the Design District Buildings, most of which reflect the vision and investment of one of Westport's most prominent citizens.
The present economic climate provides an opportunity for those so many who seek and are working to revitalize downtown Westport. That vitality will come from retail space expansions at attractive rental rates, including retail on the second floor, one or two movie theaters, for example one in the Historic Design District, a new restaurant in the Inn with one kitchen serving two dining areas, an upscale establishment and another for the rest of us, combining public and private parking lots to serve all, not just an isolated bank, medical office or building, re directing traffic flows to maximize pedestrian use of the riverfront, changes to the Library, the Levitt Pavilion and the Police Station and more.
Our town government needs to consider real estate tax incentives, zoning changes to facilitate jazz and other entertainment venues, some Town "seed money" and other actions to make downtown Westport a destination.
I suspect that Westport News editor Frances Moore knows, as do I, that this can be accomplished, that the decline in the vitality of downtown Westport can be reversed. Anyone with vision who walks the area will recognize the opportunities. Those opportunities were evident in the professional downtown plan effort that was commissioned and produced about eight years ago. They are out there for the taking.
The Westport News will provide its encouragement and enlightenment. It is time we all did the same. All that is required is some vision, lots of work and a little bit or risk taking.
We owe it to the message of Ms. Moore, a message of great importance and scope. We also owe it as a testament to what good people can accomplish.
Gift of sight
As you are well-aware the U.S. economy is experiencing a major downturn. Often when faced with tough economic times, our senior communities on fixed incomes are hurt the most when their health care falls by the wayside. During our current financial crisis, I want to make sure that their eye health is not neglected.
This holiday season, I urge readers to call EyeCare America's Seniors EyeCare Program at (800) 222-EYES (3937), to see if someone they love may qualify for medical eye care at no out-of-pocket cost. By calling EyeCare America's help line and connecting a loved one with an eye exam, friends and family members may be giving the best gift of all ... the gift of sight!
This year-round program is designed for seniors, age 65 and older, who have not seen an ophthalmologist (a medical eye doctor) in three or more years. Eligible patients will be matched with a nearby volunteer ophthalmologist. Seniors receive a comprehensive medical eye examination and up to one year of care for any disease diagnosed during the initial visit at no out-of-pocket cost.
As one of 154 Eye America volunteer ophthalmologists here in Connecticut, I experience firsthand how providing a simple, medical eye exam can preserve sight. As program volunteers, we have agreed to waive Medicare or other insurance co-payments and un-met deductibles, resulting in no out-of-pocket cost to the patient. Seniors without insurance receive care at no charge. Here in Connecticut, 5,887 have been helped through EyeCare America.
Additionally, as a part of its national Give the Gift of Sight campaign, the organization is offering two free downloadable gifts on its web site: a certificate with information on the eye exams offered through its Seniors EyeCare Program and a cookbook, created by celebrity chefs, and filled with 15 eye healthy recipes. Those interested in printing up these free gifts should visit www.eyecareamerica.org.
EyeCare America is a public service program of the Foundation of the American Academy of Ophthalmology and its Seniors EyeCare Program is co-sponsored by the Knights Templar Eye Foundation, Inc.
I urge all readers to take advantage of this valuable program and give the gift of sight to a special senior in their life this holiday season.
Jeffrey L. Oberman, M.D.