May 8th 2020
Letter to First Selectman Jim Marpe from the Coalition for Westport.
On behalf of the Coalition for Westport, we wish to express our appreciation for the exceptional job you and your administration have done to expeditiously and effectively move against the spread of the coronavirus. Those steps have minimized the effect of this insidious virus in our community and you should be commended.
We are equally supportive of your establishment of the ReOpen Westport Advisory Team and are confident that this group will provide the guidance necessary to plan for the reopening of local businesses while protecting the well-being of our residents and visitors. The Coalition intends to participate in these deliberations as appropriate.
The pandemic has had a great impact on stimulating thought about the future. It is becoming universally understood that getting back to normal is not an accurate or perhaps even a desirable goal. The future normal will clearly be an amalgam of the old way of doing things modified by new imperatives and newly acquired tastes, conduct, expectations and opportunities.
Retailing, in all its guises, may be affected the most. Sheltering in place, the accessibility of the internet and the development of new or altered habits will unquestionably change the landscape. Methods of conducting other businesses in both the private and public sectors will similarly be affected. Transportation will be impacted as will all forms of “entertainment”.
In anticipation of these kinds of changes the Coalition would like to see, and urges you to establish, another task force whose mandate would be to (1) “anticipate” what the new normal will look like in Westport and (2) recommend to your administration and other Town commissions like the P&Z, what changes to Town policy, ordinances and regulations may be required to prepare for these eventual changes. An example might be a suggestion to the P&Z to review retail zoning with a view to re-purposing certain retail zones in various sections of Westport to allow for additional functions. Another might be a suggestion that pedestrian/parking relationships be reconfigured given the expected changes in traffic patterns. Even the Town’s resources like Compo and Longshore as well as quasi-public institutions like the Westport Library and charitable organizations could come under review.
This is obviously a project that in many ways is a think-tank effort. The results would be extremely beneficial for Westport in the long-term, and the Coalition would very much like to play a role in any such endeavor. From its inception, our organization has fostered open discussion (like our Downtown Forum last year) , free of partisanship, on projects and improvements that focus on the future and enhance the Town’s appearance, quality of life and value to its residents.
As you know the membership of the Coalition includes many individuals who have served Westport in any number of Town positions. They all have a positive, not static, vision for Westport and have contributed many, now established, creative ideas that have been embraced by Westport such as curbside/outdoor dining, incentives to encourage preservation during building remodeling, and relaxed patron bar restrictions.
Thank you for considering our proposal. We believe it is in Westport’s best interest to begin planning for a post-coronavirus future and hope that you share this view. A few members of our task force would like to meet with you to discuss additional details. I look forward to hearing from you with some suggested times that are appropriate and convenient for you. Again many thanks for your continued good work on behalf of all of us.
Very Truly yours
G. Kenneth Bernhard
ABOUT THE COALITION FOR WESTPORT
The Coalition for Westport (CFW) was founded in 2012 by a group of long-time Westport residents, the majority of whom were current or former members of the Planning and Zoning Commission.
Our founding members—a non-partisan mixture of Democrats, Independents and Republicans— were united in their belief that the P&Z decisions were being based far too often on “preserving the past” as opposed to take into sufficient account the future needs of our town and the priorities and desires of our residents.
The CFW has evolved into a formidable political party that has run its own candidates for the P&Z, has influenced the two major parties to run forward-thinking candidates, proposed new ordinances in line with the goals of the Town Plan, and taken both pro and con positions on major land use and zoning proposals.
Westport, Connecticut, April 2020
In light of the situation we all find ourselves in due to the Corona Virus, some coalition members are spending their time on artistic pursuits that will hopefully brighten your day.
Still Life with Sanitizer by JoAnn Davidson.
And now for something completely different…
There was a young man from Nome
There was a young man from Nome
Who got tired of staying at home.
When you live in an igloo
There’s not much you can do.
‘Cause life is quite dull in a dome.
This viral insistance
On keeping your distance
Has certainly been quite a bore.
It’s very frustrating to be separating
From others by six feet or more.
An Ivy League academic
Is writing about the pandemic.
As his manuscript grows
It reads less like prose
And more like a heated polemic.
While hiding at home from the virus
We are looking for things to inspire us.
If you have an idea you’d like to propose
Please send it to us on papyrus.
The internet’s making me ill.
Everything on it is swill.
But I’ve swallowed my pride
While staying inside
And I’m reading whatever stands still.
Cable TV is a bore.
There’s nothing to watch anymore.
Except blonde talking heads
That sit there and babble.
I think I’d much rather play solitaire Scrabble.
Two weeks on my couch
In a nonchalant slouch
Has been really bad for my back.
My only relief from the pain and the grief
Is to visit the frig for a snack.
Trump meets with the press every day
Although he has nothing to say.
He’s weak on specifics, makes up the statistics
And pouts when things don’t go his way.
I just read a marvelous tome
A good thing to do while at home.
About Henry the eighth and his wife Anne Boleyn.
When she no longer pleased him
He had her done in.
Larry Weisman, April 2020