Daily Archives: September 8, 2005

Katrina
Besides reminding us of how blessed we are to live in safe old Greenwich, the disaster down south can teach a few other lessons, too. My liberal friends claim that the whole mess is the result of the Bush Administration’s contempt for big government while I think it reveals that the new Republicans love big government all too much. We have spent, I believe, something like $40 billion on “Homeland Security” since September 11th and, so far as I can tell, all we’ve received for our money are 40,000 new federal employees who rub women’s breasts and confiscate nail scissors. FEMA’s budget has swollen from $250 million, when it was first formed, to over $6 billion today, thereby encouraging slackards like the Mayor of New Orleans to abandon their duties to safeguard their citizens in favor of a “let the Feds do it” strategy. Did you know, for instance, that New Orleans, which, under federal law was required to develop an evacuation plan and care for its citizens for 72 hours after a natural disaster, simply decided that “Good Samaritans” would take care of the 200,000 people without cars? That’s no plan at all, as was so tragically demonstrated last week (although the sight of Sean Penn over-loading a small boat with his personal photographer, publicist and hair dresser, then promptly sinking his “rescue craft” did provide a light moment).

The real lesson of Katrina, I think, is that local authorities should not depend on federal bureaucrats to respond instantly to disaster. Greenwich and Connecticut should each focus on applicable disaster plans (Governor Rall, I hear, is doing exactly that this week). I’d rather trust local officials to know what’s needed here than rely on a FEMA administrator in Washington D.C. I might also buy some ammunition, but that’s another story.

Real Estate News
The week before Labor Day is not a particularly busy one in this business but I did see some houses of note. Gary Silberberg (Intriguing Realty) has completed his project at 21 Desiree Drive, off of Stanwich, and it’s quite nice for its type. Regular readers know that I’m not a huge fan of huge houses, but I like this one. Desiree has been transformed from a street of smallish homes to large ones like this one of 9,400 sq.ft., so the house fits in with its neighbors. It has been built to extremely high standards and abuts nearly 400 acres of park and conservation land. Pool, five bedrooms (with room for more) and a finished, walk-out basement. $5,950,000.

For less money , $3,250,000, Marta Stroll has a listing at 1 Winthrop in Riverside that is also a high quality project. It is obvious that its builder, Tim Gilson, is one of the good guys – someone who takes pride in his work and puts extra quality in as a matter of course. This is a very, very nice five bedroom house, on a great street. Considering that several houses in the area, of far lesser quality, have recently sold for close to this one’s asking price, I think this is a bargain.

And, while it isn’t new construction, Sally O’Brien’s listing at 727 Lake Avenue represents a good value, too. Built in 1983 in the Federal style, its present owners have done some extensive renovation including modernizing the kitchen and all the baths. Over two and a half acres, asking $2,695,000 – that’s a good price for Lake Avenue, I think.

Fuel Conservation
Adam Smith pointed out in 1776 it is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest And it is our self interest that will encourage us to buy more efficient cars, furnaces etc., rather than grand calls for sacrifice to the common good and denunciations of vendors as greedy capitalists. I am no happier to pay $3.35 for a gallon of regular than any other
citizen, but if that price makes other fuel sources – tar sands, solar power, whatever – competitive with oil, then I’m all for it. I remember paying $0.25 a gallon for gas here in Riverside in 1972, then traveling to Europe that same year and paying $3.00 a gallon. Is it
any surprise that Europe has a thriving nuclear energy industry and a fleet of fuel efficient cars while our contribution to the world has been the Chevy Suburban? I think not.

Nest week, back to real estate – I promise.

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