Woog's World: In Westport, no need to sweat the small stuff ... much
It's been a heavy month here in Westport. We've picked racist flyers off our lawns and driveways; debated the motivations, actions and wisdom of two men who disrupted a Temple Israel luncheon, and continued our long-running discussions about eldercare, open space and zoning. Whew!
So it's time now to turn our attention to some teeny-tinier issues. Sure, these are first world problems -- and Westport's version of those are even more cringe-worthy than many other places.
I'll take the hit. Some itches still need scratching. While we were busily hand-wringing over Big Stuff, we had no time to worry about:
The loss of Geiger's. I know, it was only a garden center. But it -- and its long-lived predecessor, Parsell's -- perked up the corner of the Post Road and Morningside North for decades. The spot was filled with seasonal plants, bushes and trees -- even a fountain that froze dramatically in winter. In its place -- and that of a barn that was carefully deconstructed for a while, then bulldozed into submission -- will come a retail/residential complex. With a bank. But (be thankful for small favors) no nail salon. Or frozen yogurt shop.
The renovation of Compo Acres Shopping Center. This is now in its 23rd year. Or so it seems. Despite the ongoing mess, SoulCycle is open for business. It's laid down a house music-thumping challenge to Joyride. Will Westport spin fanatics flock to the new chain upstart, or stay loyal to a local business that has itself been loyal to every charity fundraiser that ever asked for help? More important -- to hungry Staples students, at least -- is the question: Will Compo Acres' soon-to-open Chipotle drive Qdoba back to the hacienda? I am agnostic on both spinning and Mexican fast-food restaurants. What really interests me about the Compo Acres project is the new curbing on the north side of the parking lot. It should put an end to the absurd practice of driving over the curb, exiting directly from, say, Robek's on to the Post Road without making that pesky U-turn near the Trader Joe's entrance. Not that some people won't continue to try.
We're in the process of replacing five key town leaders: Westport Library Director Maxine Bleiweis, Staples High School Principal John Dodig, Parks and Recreation Director Stuart McCarthy, YMCA CEO Rob Reeves and, a year from now, Superintendent of Schools Elliott Landon.
In many towns, few folks care about -- or could even name -- the men and women who hold these spots. But in Westport, those are high-profile positions. We expect our leaders to actually lead, and do so with vision, creativity, passion and poise. We want them to understand and love our town, and serve it with excellence and strength (plus long, long hours). As we prepare to welcome a new generation of directors and heads, let's hope they understand that change is good, but so is not trying to fix what is not broken.
You may have noticed the "Construction Ahead" signs that went up recently on North Avenue, near Cross Highway and Coleytown Road. They refer to the imminent reconstruction project on the Merritt Parkway North Avenue bridge. The work -- scheduled to last through Oct. 30 -- will cause backups on the parkway, but what else is new? However, it will also necessitate the closing of North Avenue for about eight weeks -- an inconvenience for some, a nightmare if Staples High, Bedford and Coleytown Middle and Coleytown Elementary Schools are all in session. Nevertheless, if you've read anything about our nation's crumbling infrastructure -- or saw the harrowing "60 Minutes" report earlier this month -- you understand that a few months' preventive work will be a lot better than handling a Mianus Bridge-type collapse.
All in all, we have to search pretty hard to find something to complain about. The Longshore pool opening is delayed for a couple of weeks, but the golf course looks better than it has in years. The downtown beautification project -- paid for with state funds -- is not yet complete, but the old-timey sidewalks and street lamps that have already been installed give Main Street a paradoxically fresh look. Our taxes remain low, compared to the services we receive; just ask our friends and relatives in other towns (have you talked to anyone in Westchester lately?).
Could things be better? In an absurdly perfect world, sure. Metro-North could always be on time. Traffic could magically part whenever we got on the road. The sun could always shine; our kids could always be perfect, and lions could lie down with lambs.
All that is not gonna happen. So in the meantime, let's count our blessings. Let's enjoy each day. And let's appreciate every spin class, bank and frozen yogurt shop that welcomes us in.