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October 18, 2020

October 18, 2020

Regarding: Cribari Bridge and Transportation Improvement Study

From: The Coalition for Westport

Addressed to: Connecticut Department of Transportation.

Dear Sirs and Madams:

Although the future of the Cribari Bridge has long been the subject of debate, no decision has yet been reached as to its future. Nevertheless, a recent email blast from those who are determined to preserve the antiquated bridge urges elimination of a 40-million dollar allocation in the State Transportation Improvement Study to be used to determine and design the best course of action with respect to the bridge.

My colleagues and I in the Coalition* think that to eliminate that allocation before  conducting and knowing the result of the study would be irrational and the  height of fiscal irresponsibility. 

Whether you favor preservation or replacement of  the bridge, or even if you don’t yet have an opinion, to refuse to study the available  options and to entertain and weigh the merits of alternative solutions, defies  common sense.

Please do not allow yourself be persuaded to join an effort to predetermine what should be done about this invaluable resource, which is arguably the most important of our three vehicular River crossings, leading as it does to the Railroad station, I-95, and the most direct route to Norwalk Hospital.

Do not predetermine the outcome.Let things take their course. Leave the allocated funds in the budget. Let the study proceed and evaluate the resulting proposals. There will be plenty of time once the study has been completed to stake out our respective positions.

It would be a tragic mistake to let a relatively few voices prevent Westport from realizing the benefits of an objective and comprehensive study.

Sincerely yours,

Lawrence P. Weisman

Coalition for Westport

* The Coalition is a group of Westport citizens, all of whom have been active in the         land use prices as P&Z Commissioners, Chairs, presenters or consultants. The Coalition’s focus is on improving and educating the public about the process and commenting upon Related issues as they arise.

May 8th 2020

Letter to First Selectman Jim Marpe from the Coalition for Westport.

Dear Jim,

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.