Save the Inn

at National Hall

Some may not be aware that the Inn at National Hall continues today as a delightful hotel with all the design beauty and glorious furnishings that Arthur Tauck created many years ago. We all continue to owe a debt of gratitude for what Tauck's efforts accomplished in that area of downtown Westport, the west side of the Saugatuck River.

On Dec. 3, Westport's Planning & Zoning Commission adopted a text amendment application from Weisman/Greenfield Partners which would allow Greenfield Partners to destroy the interior of the Inn at National Hall.and convert the entire space, from the ground floor to the upper floors, into corporate office space. The amendment application approved would alter the zoning priorities of that existing Historic Design District, a total of five buildings, by diminishing the mandate for retail space and against office space, in favor of permitted office space.

Through a petition of citizens, the RTM has been asked to reverse the decision of the commission. The P&Z Committee of the RTM has voted unanimously, 8--0, to recommend that the full RTM reverse it. The only meeting of the RTM will be Wednesday, Jan. 13, in the Town Hall Auditorium at 8 p.m. Only this matter of reversal will be addressed.

Please, please e-mail your RTM representative and also come to the Wednesday meeting and express your dismay with the replacement of the Inn at National Hall with corporate office space. In this unique economic cycle, now is not the time to abandon the Inn at National Hall and the other buildings in that Historic Design District to a real estate developer whose primary interest is to create an office park. Indeed, maybe that is not the primary interest of Greenfield Partners. Maybe it is simply to profit by "bottom-fishing" as to price and use the present economic cycle to pressure the Westport Planning & Zoning Commission to make an unwise decision.

Please get involved.

Don Bergmann

Westport

Disappointed

I was very disappointed by the tone of the article about Peter Eramo, the teacher acquitted of sexual assault (Westport News, Thursday, Dec. 31). Kirk Lang's writing was one-sided and not objective. The job of a newspaper reporter is to provide fact, not opinions -- unless, of course, he is writing an editorial, which he was not. Eramo and his lawyer Keefe's comments about the accuser were insulting unnecessary, and perpetuated a harmful myth about sexual assault: that many accusations are false. Keefe is incorrect to say that women report sexual assault to "get attention" -- only about 2 percent of sexual assault reports are deemed false, and it is hard to argue that someone would enjoy the attention given to a victim. This is hardly a "starring role," to quote Eramo.

One tacit fact was present, but not mentioned: Eramo's behavior. He broke a clear teaching policy at Staples, and should never have had a student over to his house, nor taken her to dinner and a jazz club. If this behavior seems acceptable to Eramo, he does not belong in a teaching job. His claim that he was "naive" and "young" has nothing to do with it. His judgment was terrible, and the end of his career rests on his shoulders alone.

Not even close to half of sexual assaults are reported by victims (www.mncasa.com, for statistic above as well), and articles like this are largely to blame. Victims fear that they will not be believed, and that their reputations will be destroyed. In the Westport News, I expect to read articles that objectively report the facts and provide readers with information, not slander. In the future, I hope articles such as this will be to-the-point and sensitive towards sexual assault, rather than castigate an alleged victim.

Sarah Faeth

Westport

This does not feel like

my hometown anymore

After 37 years living in Westport this doesn't feel like my hometown anymore. Not after I left my pocketbook in a shopping cart in the Fresh Market parking lot yesterday Sunday January 3rd a blustery snowy day at about 4:30 p.m.

Five minutes after I drove away and realized I left my pocketbook in the shopping cart, I drove back just minutes later hoping it would still be in the cart. It was not, I raced into the store to see if anyone turned it in and the answer was No.

Please if you know anything or if you took it, please return it no questions asked and a reward would be in order.

How could anyone with a conscience not return my brown pocketbook, my wallet and my personal information. You can just drop it off at Fresh Market or contact the Westport News. My address is also available. It would be greatly appreciated.

Please don't disappoint a long-time resident of a place I used to feel safe and comfortable.

June Whittaker

Westport

Thanks to Zappis

It is with great pleasure that the Westport Historical Society acknowledges Catherine and Bob Zappi of Westport, who generously donated their home as the very special venue for the Holiday House Tour post-event celebration known as the Twilight Soiree. It was an evening that truly sparkled not only from the Prosecco served but from the wonderful ambiance created by the Zappis. They were enormously generous with their time and their support and made this event a fantastic evening. In addition to making all the guests feel welcome, they kindly paid for police presence on the street so guests could cross safely.

Robert Zappi and his son Mark, who recently released a new pictorial book titled Westport -- Celebrating a New England Town capturing the true beauty of Westport, generously donated copies of this book to the silent auction as well.

Their kindness and hospitality were above and beyond what we could have hoped for and the atmosphere was perfect for a celebratory evening after another wonderful Holiday House Tour.

It is due to the support and graciousness of people like the Zappis that the Westport Historical Society can create a memorable party that brings people together to laugh, to share and to rejoice -- a beautiful gift to give all of us at this holiday time.

Dorothy Curran, Holiday House Tour Chairman; Susan Gold, WHS Executive Director; Katie Chase, WHS President

Westport

Pick-up game

While kayaking up the Saugatuck River yesterday I picked up 18 tennis balls and one soccer ball. Is this a record?

Nicholas Clarke

Westport

Kudos

A hearty round of applause is due our Westport-Weston First Night committee, under the leadership of Barbara Pearson-Rac, for presenting an outstanding First Night. The evening's presentations were seamlessly presented.

The early morning snows were intimidating and made many think back to the blizzard of last year's First Night. But, the First Night committee refused to look back and kept moving forward.

Their program was wonderfully put together and presented. There were many venues to be enjoyed by all ages. The Jesup Green bonfire was there to keep us warm. All the entertainment sites were within walking distance of each other. The volunteers graciously answered questions for the guests.

The whole night was a worthy "Hollywood " production. It's ending, with brilliant fireworks over the Saugatuck River, was a worthy capper to all who helped to make the evening possible.

Ann Marie Flynn, RTM Dist. 6,

Westport

Community service

Since December 2002, Give2theTroops has supported 1 million deployed U.S. troops with care packages and letters from all over the nation. This fall, with the recession hitting hard, Andi Grant, founder and director, found her usually overflowing packing room empty. She had nothing to send for the 2009 holidays. The Westport News helped me send out the word to the community and the community responded. My family and I were proud to deliver so many donations, cards, ornaments, and banners to Give2theTroop's November packing party. As soon as Andi saw us unloading our cars, she came running up to us. She'd been about to cancel the party. She was so grateful to everyone in Westport who donated, making her packing party a huge success.

I would like to thank Trader Joe's, Whole Foods, and Costco for their generous contributions, as well as John and India Penney and Sharmishtha Roy Chowdhury for organizing a drive in her neighborhood. Thank you especially to Marion Leaman, Service Unit Manager for the Westport Girl Scouts, for adopting Give2theTroops as their Make A Difference Day philanthropy. One-hundred-seventy-eight Westport Girl Scouts and their families donated bags of groceries, hand-made holiday cards and ornaments, toiletries, DVDs, and the always appreciated Ziplock storage bags. Thank you all for your tremendous generosity!

The Kalb Family

Westport

Holiday giving success

While the holiday season may be behind us, the joy continues on in many Westport homes. The Department of Human Services thanks the hundreds of donors who contributed to the Westport Holiday Giving Program this year. Whether it was by purchasing the gift list for a single mom and child or a large family, donating toys, books, movie certificates, food baskets, turkeys or a gift card your generosity helped make this year one of the most successful ever for our own neighbors.

Specific thanks must go to each of the eight PTA's and their students for organizing their individual giving efforts, the Y's Men drivers who picked up and delivered carloads of Thanksgiving meals and the Toquet Hall Student Governing Board which raised money and filled gift bags for Homes with Hope/IHA residents. In addition, generous donations were received from the Westport Woman's Club, the Westport/Weston Foundation, the Hurlbutt Foundation, the Social Concerns Committee of Assumption Church, The Betty R. & Ralph Sheffer Foundation, the Westport Garden Club, the Democratic Women of Westport, The Rebecca Chusid Holiday Toy Drive, WishList, Athletic Shoe Factory, Winged Monkey, Lollipop Guild, Sterling Investment Partners, Iridian Asset Management, Weichert Capital Properties, Community Nursery School, Berkowitz, Trager and Trager Attorneys and the Amnesty International Club at Staples. In addition, more than 100 community donors, including 24 individual Town Hall/Town School employees and Commission members filled holiday gift lists. This entire program could not have happened without the tremendous effort of our holiday volunteer coordinators Kathy Lehn and Madeline Saxonmeyer.

In all, 463 individuals, including 280 children, were served directly from this community support. This generosity is especially appreciated due to the 11 percent increase in those needing assistance during this holiday season, reflective of our current tough economic times.

We fully recognize that the Holiday Program comes at perhaps the busiest time of year for all of us and that makes these efforts that much more wonderful. Thank you on behalf of those whose holidays were brightened because of you.

Barbara Butler, Director,

Westport Department of Human Services