I’ll be honing my archery skills to prepare for the upcoming hunting season, then peddling dirt, then helping daughter Sarah paint her bedroom (Walt, here’s the invitation you’ve been longing for) so probably no new posts until this evening.
Monthly Archives: June 2013
Bob’s been writing a series of articles on the deterioration of our public parks for Greenwich Time, with particular attention to Bnney Park. Last week he discussed why the pond there is silting up and what to do about it: build the catch basins called for a decade ago and clean them once a year at minimal cost instead of dredging the entire pond evey fifteen years for millions.
This week, noting that the town has budgeted $100,000 to study the origin and sources of that silt (to quote our former secretary of state, “what difference does it make anymore?” we already know where it’s coming from, Stamford, and they aren’t going to stop it -dredge it and put in the catch basins. In other words, deal with it.). Bob does more than just point out the obvious he steers our town officials to a study that has already been performed, and paid for:
Just get to the room in Town Hall that holds Engineering Department files from 1996.
There is a box there, about 18 inches deep, that holds all the answers they want us to pay for again.
I know this because a friend and part-time sleuth, who seems to know the ins and outs of town files better than anyone else, found the documents in a few hours time.
The files’ contents reveal an extensive analysis of water sources that feed the pond and the rates of siltation under various weather conditions. There are many photographs that detail erosion along the pond’s edge and the natural sediment collection areas provided by the park’s topography. There are land surveys and extensive mapping that show details of the most effective locations for weirs and silt traps. Engineers even considered dredging the pond to a deeper level in the hopes of extending the time between dredges. The topography, according to the plan, made that untenable.
There is also a cost benefit analysis of routine cleaning of weirs or silt traps compared to the every 15-20 year dredging cycle currently in place (guess which one wins, easily?).
And, these plans and analyses were done at the request of the Board of Selectmen and theParks and Recreation Department. Preliminary drafts were shared for comment with thePlanning and Zoning Commission, the Engineering Department, and the Inland Wetlands Commission. Each group raised various issues and all were addressed by the engineering firm that conducted the work, Daniel S. Natchez and Associates, Inc. of Mamaroneck.
So the town could save $100,000 by looking into its own files.
Will our governors act on Bob’s suggestion and save us money and time in addressing the problem, or will they put the day of reckoning off again by commissioning another study? Anyone who’s lived in town longer than six months and had the opportunity to watch our town government in action knows the answer to that one.
Bill Whittle offers a libertarian view on gay marriage.
From reader Chris R:
President Obama Thursday nominated, Patrick Gaspard – a longtime political operative, union activist, and community organizer with no diplomatic experience – to be U.S. ambassador to South Africa.
Gaspard, currently the executive director of the Democratic National Committee, is an Obama political fixer – and not even the president’s top one, having been overshadowed by giants like David Plouffe, Jim Messina, and David Axelrod.
Gaspard served nearly a decade as the political chief for the New York City branch of the Service Employees International Union. He has worked on the presidential bids of Jesse Jackson and Howard Dean, the 1989 mayoral campaign of former New York City Mayor David Dinkins, and for many other candidates.
“He’s black, so of course the Africans will love him,” Obama explained, “and he’s my friend; that’s enough.”
Mayor Bloomberg claimed that people of color should be stopped and frisked more— not less — while whites are stopped too frequently.
“I think we disproportionately stop whites too much and minorities too little. It’s exactly the reverse of what they say,” Bloomberg said on his weekly radio show, in response to the City Council passing two bills aimed at reining in the controversial policing tactic.
“I don’t know where they went to school but they certainly didn’t take a math course. Or a logic course.”
The mayor was referring to statistics showing that a majority of serious crimes in the city are carried out by young men of color.
Eighty seven percent of all stops last year were for blacks or latinos, who constituted 90 percent of murder suspects, according to city stats. Only nine percent of stops were for white people, who made up 7 percent of all murder suspects.
“People say, well you know, cops shouldn’t be stopping so many of any one group,” he said. “The cops’ job is to stop so many of groups fitting the description. It’s society’s job to make sure that no one group is disproportionately represented as potential perpetrators.
“That’s not the test. The test is are you stopping a disproportionate percentage of people who fit the description that witnesses or victims have come up with of crimes that have been committed.”
The candidates vowing to replace him all are screaming bloody murder, so to speak. It’s exactly their kind of stupidity that has the TSA groping 90-year-old paraplegics in airports.
Ballentine was bought out long ago by Random House which in turn was bought out by Bertelsmann which was the largest publisher of Nazi propaganda in the world. Now it’s embarrassed by an American author’s statements made 30 years ago?
Publishing today is all corporate, all the time. Having had a couple of novels accepted by a Ballantine editor who was then overruled on political correctness grounds by her publishing committee, I’m with Paula Dean, all the way.
A friend/client and I were discussing the phenomenon of two houses on the market, same street, same year of construction, same size yard and house and of roughly equal quality. One started at well above $2 million and is still for sale two years later, priced at around $1.8. The other one – superior, to an objective eye, if not the $1.8s’ owner – showed up last month at around $1.4ish and was under contract in less than two weeks. The unsold one’s price remains unchanged.
My friend sent along this story, with the suggestion that the owner is waiting for Ivan to show up. I think he’s exactly right.
Ivan, a Russian oligarch meets Boris, his oligarch buddy. Boris is wearing a beautiful silk suit and Ivan asks – “Boris, where did you get this beautiful suit and how much did it cost”? Boris replies “I got it in Spantinskaya Square and it cost $8,000”. “You idiot”, Ivan responds, “I bought the exact same suit just across street for $13, 000!”.
Five more reported (and at least one more that I’m aware of – ahem – but it hasn’t shown up yet).
34 Lockwood Lane, Riverside, full price, $658,000. Convenient to transportation and a close-up view of the I-95 overpass reconstruction going on now.
13 Mortmer, Old Greenwich, $1.050 million.
1025 North Street (Banksville w/o the taxes), $1.295 ask, $1.250 got, after just 59 days. Of course, the sellers paid $1.630 for this place in 2005, so it must have appeared to be a bargain.
1A Idar Court, $1.8 on an asking price of $2.195.
And, finally, 21 Midland, $10,650,000. Owner bought this new in 2007 for $8.945 and presumably put a lot of money into customizing it, because he relisted it at $16 million 1,476 days ago. Price reductions followed.
As the end of June approaches, the closings from this spring’s contracts are coming in. Here are three more, plus an accepted offer.
361 Stanwich, $1.706 million, $1.699 asked. Best two-acres on the market; in fact, I was trying to sell this last fall and early winter when it had been temporarily pulled from the market. The house is certainly livable, but two, flat acres on Stanwich will support a far more expensive house than this one, and I’d be astonished if it sees the leaves turn this fall.
And another land sale, 78 Rockwood, $1.995 asked, $1.990 got, quickly. This one is harder for me to understand. Another teardown, but the land it sits on is pretty much bleh. Guess it’s the location that proved the draw.
31 Loughlin Avenue is a real house on no land (0.17). Asked $1.1 million, got $962,500. The market’s hot.
And proving that at the right price anything in Greenwich can sell, 11 Londonderry, asking $1.590 million, has an accepted offer. Perfectly nice house, but on the Merritt, and that’s always a tough sell. The owners paid $1.410 for it in 2002, put on an addition, did a major rework and placed it back up for sale in 2010 for $2.250. In another location, that would have been a very fair price but the Merritt demands a discount, and that’s what it took to sell this one.
Moodys: of the ten states whose pension liabilities exceed annual tax revenue, Chicago is first at 241% but Connecticut is second at 189%. “I blame the Republicans,” Governor Malloy said when questioned on this state’s second-tier status. “They’ve had governors here for a number of terms and they slowed down some of our best efforts. But we’re here in full force now – give us one more term and see if we don’t lead the nation again.”
Our unfunded pension liabilities are matched only by our complete failure to maintain our roads and bridges and now, after decades of siphoning off our gasoline taxes (30%, and climbing 18% more next week) to pay for social and wealth redistribution schemes, Hartford’s eyeing still higher taxes and highway tolls to begin to repair the damage caused by their negligence.
Pay for pensions, pay for roads? Not hardly: instead we’re building a high speed railroad to nowhere because, as our Governor points out, “those things are really, really cool, you know?”
Never let the facts get in the way of a good story. Obama visits Goree Slave House in Sengal, peers thoughtfully out “the door of no return”. Too bad it was actually a garbage chute.
[T] he door facing the open water, the so-called Door of No Return through which the shackled men, women and children left Africa, inching across a plank to the hull of a waiting ship. Like with previous tour groups, the curator planned to ask Obama to stand before the open door and contemplate the view, the slaves’ last glimpse of Africa, he claims.
The problem though is that historians say the door faced the ocean so that the inhabitants of the house could chuck their garbage into the water, the preferred means of waste disposal in preindustrial Senegal. No slaves ever boarded a ship through it, they say, because no vessel could have sailed through the rocky shoal that surrounds that edge of the island.
And while the house may have housed slaves, they were likely those belonging to the family who lived there, rather than slaves intended for the trans-Atlantic passage, according to numerous publications as well as three historians of the slave trade interviewed by The Associated Press.
Even though historians have debunked the memorial, calling it a local invention, and despite reams of scholarly articles, treatises and books discussing its dubious historical role, the pink building has become the de facto emblem of slavery. It’s the place where world leaders go to acknowledge this dark chapter and in addition to Obama, the museum has hosted former Presidents Bill Clinton and George Bush and Pope John Paul II. Its guestbook is bursting with the emotional messages from African-Americans who made their own pilgrimage here in an effort to make peace with their ancestors’ roots.
“There are literally no historians who believe the Slave House is what they’re claiming it to be, or that believe Goree was statistically significant in terms of the slave trade,” says historian Ralph Austen, a professor emeritus at the University of Chicago who is the author of several articles on the issue. “The debate for us is how loudly should we denounce it?”
From 1501 to 1866, an estimated 12 million slaves from Africa were sent to North America, according to a database created by scholars using shipping records and plantation registers. Of these, only 33,000 came from Goree Island, an insignificant portion of the overall total, the database shows.
Yet the plaques which grace the stone walls of the Slave House speak of the “millions” of slaves that passed through its halls.
In the 1990s, Philip Curtin, an emeritus professor of history at Johns Hopkins University and the author of two dozen books on the Atlantic slave trade, became one of the first scholars to question the authenticity of the Slave House. In a discussion on an online forum for historians, he said he believed the “hoax” was perpetrated by the charismatic Joseph Ndiaye, who preceded Coly as the museum’s curator, and who ushered generations of visitors through the house, recounting the alleged horrors perpetrated there with theatrical pomp. Ndiaye initially claimed that 20 million had passed through the house, upping it to 40 million by the time Curtin visited in 1992, four times the total figure of slaves exported from Africa overall.
“A lot of people have been taken in by the Goree scam,” Curtin wrote. “Though Goree is a picturesque place, it was marginal to the slave trade.”
82 Sheephill Road, asked $1.595 million, sold for $1,487,500. Sheephill’s not my favorite street: it’s busy; but this is a completely redone house and not a bad price, if you insist on “new”.
5 Jofran Road sold for $2,727,500. Last sold for $2.760 million in 2006, so any renovations put in by these owners ended up free – that seems to happen a lot in the mid-country. I liked this house, but the steep cliff of a back yard seems to have been a daunting obstacle for most buyers.
And 9 Dingletown Road has an accepted offer after asking $4.975 million. It sold new in 2005 for $4.3 million and the buyers installed a pool, completely redid the kitchen, etc., and listed it for $6.250 in 2009, an unpropitious time for making money in real estate. This new, less ambitious price did the trick but again, it looks like all that work done since 2005 will benefit the new owner, not the seller.
Back in October we told you of the Wisconsin lover arrested for attempting to have sex with his couch, and we’re sure that, like us, many of you wondered about the outcome.
A Wisconsin man who was caught last year having sex with a couch pleaded guilty to public lewdness Monday. Gerard Streator, 47, was sentenced to five months in jail for the furniture fornication, according to documents obtained by The Smoking Gun. He is also barred from possessing “pornography of any kind” and must pay $243 in court costs.
From a Greenwich Time press release direct from the Associated Press:
WASHINGTON (AP) — With a solemnity reserved for momentous occasions, the Senate passed historic legislation Thursday offering the priceless hope of citizenship to millions of immigrants living illegally in America’s shadows. The bill also promises a military-style effort to secure the long-porous border with Mexico.
Just received the following from Chris Franco, President of the Greenwich Point Conservancy (I’ve supplied the bold emphasis – Mr. Franco is too much of a gentleman to so obviously draw attention to such a delicate matter).
Hi Chris – I am the President of the Greenwich Point Conservancy, and we do in fact have plans ready to go to restore the Old Barn (aka North Concession building), which was built in 1887 and is the oldest surviving building at Greenwich Point. It was a livestock barn when first built, and had two wings and an open section in the middle (covered by the roof). It is listed on the CT State Register of Historic Places, and has been approved for listing on the National Register as well.
Our plans are to restore it to its original configuration and materials (stone and shingle), and add a dining deck on the beach side. The food concession would be rehabbed, and restrooms would be added to the opposite wing, which used to house the Bruce Museum Seaside Center before it moved to the restored Innis Arden Cottage. The brick 1950-era municipal style restroom building would be demolished, and the views up the beach and through the center of the old barn from the roadway would be opened up and terrific.
On Tuesday night the town (as the owner of the building), assisted by the Greenwich Point Conservancy, went before the P&Z commission for a preliminary site approval for the project. Because the Old Barn is a listed historical building, it is eligible for a variance from the requirement to raise the structure per the new FEMA guidelines. This is a good thing, for if such a variance is not obtained, the building will need to be torn down, which would be a huge loss (it would not be possible to raise it 10 feet and still have it be usable; handicap access would not be feasible, nor would it be realistically accessible by anyone for that matter). We have worked closely with the town and the state DEEP to include in the plan various types of construction to mitigate storm issues in the future.
The GPC has privately raised the funds for this work, and also has offered an endowment to cover damage in the future, so that the town would not have an issue with its FEMA insurance coverage generally.
There are some in town who believe that essentially nothing should be built in these coastal and flood zones, and that when buildings are damaged, they should be removed and the coastline essentially reclaimed by nature. While in some cases this may make sense, Greenwich Point is a town park and beach, and it needs to have services. Further, Greenwich Point has an amazing and rare/valuable collection of historic buildings, all of which are in the flood zone. It would a tragedy to loose these cultural resources. No one is prejudiced by granting a variance for a public building such as this, as it is for the benefit of and used by everyone.
Interestingly, we had similar issues when we were beginning our efforts to restore Innis Arden Cottage. It was slated for eventual demolition, and there were those in power who did not believe it should be restored, even though it had survived in that site for 110 years, including through the hurricane of ’38, our worst on record. The GPC had to fight to get the building recognized as an important historical asset and to save it. Now, most people love the restored Cottage and would not think of recommending that it be razed. It is notable that the Innis Arden Cottage is only a few hundred feet away from the Old Barn, and is at the same elevation.
Now we again face the same challenge, with certain people who think that this beautiful 125-year-old building, which has stood on the beach for all that time, should be demolished. I should note that most of the damage to the building in Hurricane Sandy was to sections that had been altered in more recent years – the original parts weathered the storm the best.
I am confident that we will eventually get the right result here, as we did with the Innis Arden Cottage, but we need all the support we can get from the community. If you support the restoration of this great building (trust me, when restored it will be beautiful and its terrace will be the best waterfront dining spot in town, bar none), please let town officials, P&Z members and other land use officials know how you feel.
Thanks and best regards, Chris Franco
Readers who wish to support Mr. Franko’s efforts might do well by contacting Peter Tesei directly, here.