Daily Archives: March 29, 2016

Elephant graveyard

65 clapboard ridge

65 Clapboard Ridge Road – could we house our local pols in it and declare it a home for the criminally insane?

65 Clapboard Ridge Road, 14,500 sq.ft. of very expensively-finished space on 3 + acres, has cut its price, again, and is now looking for $9.975 million. The owners are bound to get something for this house -it’s really very nice, for its type, but the market for homes this large is small and getting smaller.

These owners paid $10 million for it in 2007, spent a lot of money renovating it in 2009-2010, and put it back up for sale at $12.495 a year ago. Today’s price cut shows how that’s been working.


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Please sir, may I have some more?


Miles Cowperthwaite: “Do me again, hard, and keep doing it!”

Yale’s staying put in Connecticut.

“It’s wonderful to be recognized as an outstanding asset, but Yale, New Haven, and Connecticut have been on common ground to great mutual benefit for 300 years. We’re looking forward to reaching even greater heights in education, research and civic engagement over the next three centuries and more,” Yale spokesman Tom Conroy said in a statement provided to the News.

Hey, Yale can do what it wants to do, but the land of safe spaces and puppy dog counselors does seem to be rather thoroughly enjoying its rough treatment by Hartford Democrats. In fact, the whole institution sounds quite a bit like the crew of HMS Raging Queen.

Captain Ned: Is this how men act on a man’s ship? Where is your manliness? Fighting on deck is a serious breach on my articles of strict discipline! I’m afraid the guilty party is in for a very severe punishment!

Sailor #1: Captain.. I did indeed take Mr. Spunk’s spot. I’m ready to accept my punishment..

First Mate Spunk: Captain!  I threw the first blow. If anyone is to be punished, let it be me. I ask only that whatever you do, please don’t put me in a tight-fitting Lassie costume and make me eat from a monogrammed dog dish.

Sailor #2: [ entering ] Captain, I encouraged this fight – punish me! Make me wear nipple-pinching clothespins, sir!

Sailor #3: [ entering ] Me, Captain! Punish me!

Captain NedStop! I’ve heard enough! Your manly admission of guilt is most manful. However, as your Captain, it is I who must bear the full masculine responsibility! And therefore, I will be punished. Spunk! Take me alone! I want a boiling oil rub..


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A tale of two towns


I know it was you, Fredo, but that’s alright: it was all of us

Fairfield, Connecticut, has a population of 60,855, and encompasses 31.3 sq. miles. In 2006, Money Magazine named it “The Best Place to Live in America”.

Greenwich, CT, has a population of 61,171, and encompasses 48 sq. miles (corrected from earlier draft) much of which is in low-density neighborhoods. Despite the land size differences, you might think the two towns should have comparable budgets. You might think so, but you’d be wrong. Fairfield’s proposed 2016-17 budget is $130 million. Greenwich’s is $427.9 million, up from last year’s $411 million.

Here’s Fairfield First Selectman Mike Tetreau’s cover letter for his proposed budget:

Highlights of my proposed Townside budget are:

  • ●  For the first time in over 20 years, my Townside budget is proposed to be less than the prior year. I am proposing a Townside budget that is just under $130 million. Last year’s Townside budget set a record for the lowest increase in twenty years. This year we beat that record with a .22 percent decrease. [emphasis added]
  • ●  This budget does not reduce or defer any services.
  • ●  The drivers for this reduction are lower healthcare costs due to the move to a new healthcare plan for Town employees, lower annual debt service, lower workers compensation expense, lower pension costs and lower fees and professional services.
  • ●  This budget includes the annually recommended pension contribution, the annually recommended OPEB contribution, higher paving costs, higher sidewalk maintenance, more Public Works equipment, increased snow clearing expense, increased Senior Center support, increased Senior and Disabled Tax Relief, a supplemental contribution to surplus to support our AAA rating, and continued funding for school security personnel.


  • If we can – fairly – blame our state’s horrendous spending and resulting budget disaster on 40 years of Democrats, who is to blame for Greenwich’s own out of control spending, a town controlled and run by Republicans for over a century?
  • Certainly the local Democrats aren’t the answer to this mess – they want to borrow more money so they can further leverage their spending, but our own Republicans have demonstrated an ineptness that’s almost breathtaking these past few decades, and they’re only getting worse.

UPDATE: Ooops! Not quite a Gilda Radner “Never Mind”, but FAR Ghost informs me that the Fairfield budget of $130 does not include its school budget, which brings their budget to $295 million.  That’s still an extra $138 million to govern the same number of people, but not as bad as I understood it to be.


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Huh – missed this one

34 Wescott

34 Wescott Street

(Try this link – it still has pictures up, as of this writing): 34 Wescott Street, Riverside NoPo, just sold for $730,000. I had to look Wescott Street up on the map, but it turns out, I’m on it frequently, I just hadn’t noticed the name – it’s the cut through from behind McDonalds to Sheephill Road.

Judging from its pictures, it’s not at all a bad little house, and shouldn’t require all that much money to bring it up to date. Mind you, spending a whole lot on this house, this location, wouldn’t be very smart to begin with, but there’s certainly room to invest a modest amount.

People in Maine would be sobbing hysterically if they saw what this kind of money buys down here but then, people in Maine don’t work on Wall Street. That makes them doubly  lucky, I suppose.


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It’s “in crisis” because no one wants one

Smart house flat illustration concept

You might as well burn up your cash by stacking it on your solar roof panels and waiting for a sunny day

Business Insider, which seems to be trying to replaces interns with real reporters (a distinction without a difference, probably), looks at the “smart home’ segment and declares a crisis.

There are many barriers preventing mass-market smart home adoption: high device prices, limited consumer demand [emphasis added] and long device replacement cycles. However, the largest barrier is the technological fragmentation of the smart home ecosystem, in which consumers need multiple networking devices, apps and more to build and run their smart home.

There’s not really a technology gap here, so far as I can see, there’s what economists call a “who the fuck wants or cares about it?” problem . Judging from the reaction of my clients, and those of other agents I’ve spoken with, the market for a “home environment” system controllable remotely by the owner, is about as large as that for Question systems; in other words, it’s non-existent. The smart home is an answer to a question that isn’t being asked.

My advice is that, if you are a real wonk about this stuff and have the money to indulge your electronic gadgetry obsession, gofer it, but don’t expect the next owner of your house to pay a penny for it. Like a swimming pool, which adds exactly nothing to the value of most homes, your surround sound/home heating/cooling/burglar alarmed/nanny watcher system won’t win buyers.

And unlike that swimming pool, your electronic gizmos will be obsolete by the time you resell.





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Sale, contract, and a price cut

6 lita

6 Lita Lane

6 Lita Drive, Greenwich, new construction, sold for $3.425 (Realtor.com estimated its worth at $1.4 – something’s wrong with their algorithms). Not at all my cup of tea, especially what has to be one of the ugliest front exteriors of recent build, but Lita’s a close-in street and this one’s almost at the end of it, away from North Street, so that helps. No. 10 Lita, next door, sold for $3.57 in 2014, which makes this price seem sort of comparable, even at 1,000 feet less.

80 Round Hill Road

80 Round Hill Rd

80 Round Hill Road, asking $4.080 million, is under contract. 1938 house, and very attractive in a formal way. I wouldn’t imagine its kitchen will survive the new owners.



17 Sherwood Farm Lane, sister street to Stillman Drive, which we discussed yesterday, has cut its price to $4.595 million. Owners bought it from its builder for $4.9 for it in 2004 and have been trying to leave it since 2014. All the houses in this development are beautifully made, but they’ve struggled to hold their value, as I mentioned here back in 2012.

17 Sherwood

17 Sherwood Farm Lane


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Cognewaugh Contract

300 cognewaugh rd

300 Cognewaugh Rd

300 Cognewaugh Road, asking $1.975 million, just 69 days on the market. I think it’s a great house at this price, and it’s evidence that, in this current craze for 1/4 – acre lots in Riverside, some buyers still prefer three acres of privacy, even at the expense of a relatively inconvenient location.

Smart price, to sell so quickly; not instantly, mind you, but quick.


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Well I guess if it worked, okay, but ….


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Remember this later when the next town hire comes up for discussion

Last week’s decision by the BET to cut our Tax Assessor’s salary in half, to $49,000 is just fine with me; in fact, we should repeat that process for all town employees, starting at the Selectman’s office and working our way down from there. But how it was done, and the reasons for it are less appealing.

BET Democrat John Blankley, who proposed the cut, said it was not personal against Laudonia. The salary is too high for an elected official, he said, and the town should always ensure that the job should go to someone with the proper credentials and certification.

“For me this was the continuation of the campaign last fall when I supported our tax collector candidate, Howard Richman, whose platform was the abolition of the tax collector as an elected position,” Blankley said. “There is money to be saved by reorganizing that department and making its head an appointed official with demonstrated qualifications and credentials, just as we did with the tax assessor position.”

Laudonia, who who won re-election by a two-to-one margin and is a certified tax collector, was not buying that claim.

“John Blankley happened to be the treasurer and campaign confidante of my opponent and after they resoundingly lost three months later he floated a change in governance that was turned down by the people of Greenwich,” he said. “He’s not accountable to anyone.

Blankley may not be accountable to the town, but he certainly answers to his family and sees to its needs. For instance, his own daughter Katie was promoted to Town Planner, without the “requisite – until-waived” educational requirements, and now receives a salary well in excess of $100,000 (her predecessor, Diane Fox, was making $141,000 in 2012). I’m heading off to a meeting and don’t have time to find the definitive list of Town salaries – it’s hidden; perhaps a reader has a link – but  here’s a chart of what various “planners” make in Greenwich. 

Wanna save money? Start at Town Hall.

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