People have their say about what's up in downtown Westport
A lot of attention has been focused on downtown Westport over the last couple of years.
Town officials, business owners, new developers and the public have all had their say on what's good and what's not, what works and what needs to be fixed.
New zoning regulations have been approved, and some major additions to the downtown community have recently appeared on the scene -- the Spotted Horse Tavern, Urban Outfitters and a Nike store, to name a few.
And many more loom, what with recent approval for the makeover of the National Hall complex and the evolving plans for the old Town Hall and former post office properties.
So what's up in downtown Westport? Here's an unscientific sampling of sentiments recorded there this week:
At one of Main Street's mainstays, Westport Pizzeria, owners Mel and Frank Mioli, along with Jacques Voris, were busily prepping for the expected lunchtime rush.
"The only reason I would come down here anymore is because Westport has become more clean," said Voris.
"The area is always clean. They have revitalized the old area with new buildings coming up, especially new restaurants," said Mel Mioli. "But they have to make rent more affordable because right now it's just mostly chain stores around here. Smaller businesses can't afford to really open around here," Mioli added.
Paul Buckley accompanied his wife for a downtown shopping trip.
"This is my very first trip to Westport with my wife, who's in one of the stores now. I really enjoy the Starbucks, but I can't find my wife," he said.
"The scenic river view is beautiful; the area is walkable," St. Onge said. "I've lived here a long time and I really like it here."
"It's a really pretty downtown area, and the outside dining is lovely. And baby James loves the friendly people," said Provin. James also signaled his pleasure, waving and laughing.
"This area is walkable from where we live," said Mason. "There are plenty of sidewalks; there is a good variety of stores, although I'm sure many people could argue that."
"There is the library, the water is right there, there are nice restaurants that they have recently added, and it's just very peaceful," observed Zawacki.
But Mason added, "We'd like to see more outdoor eating places still, though, and we could use maybe a movie theater in the area."
"It would be nice if on Saturdays and Sundays they could close off one of the streets just for pedestrians," Zawacki suggested, "even though there would be parking problems that would come with that."
Lisa Hofrichter is a Westport resident who likes coming downtown.
"I like the fact that they have some interesting stores," she said, but "I do wish they brought back some of the old stores, like the Remarkable Book Store. There's Sally's CD place, though."
A young Westport shopper, Stephanie Gorab, was just browsing some of the downtown shops.
"I really like the stores and the shopping for women, like Odds and Lululemon," she said. "I really wouldn't change anything about the area."
"The one-on-one attention from the customers is really nice, and there's great customer loyalty around here," said Troncone. "But I think they shouldn't be so strict on the parking."
"I like the streets for shopping, the sidewalks," said Rolff. "Compared to Greenwich, you don't have to pay for parking."
Westport resident Mark Derosa was relaxing on a bench overlooking the Saugatuck River, sipping a Starbucks drink.
"It's just nice to be able to sit by the river, and we are able to walk so easily. It's a nice, manageable town. I like that there seems to be more restaurants coming back, and some artistic expression coming back as well," he said.
"They used to have a lot more art fairs going on," Derosa added.
Walking from store to store on Main Street was resident Courtney Ferri.
"The stores are so close to each other, and you can easily spend hours shopping," said Ferri. "It's a really clean area here too, and there are some elegant shops. People from far away would come here to shop."
Will Lambert moved to the area about a week ago, a recent graduate from Loyola University in Maryland.
"Everyone seems pretty friendly and pretty chill," he said. "It would be nice if they had a lower-budget place to eat, like a Cosi or a Chipotle."