To the editor:

Now with the election in just a few weeks ahead, this letter will show an insider’s view of how Longshore planning is going at this critical time.

This public letter is a followup on our (my husband and I) Oct. 4, 2023 letter and, in particular, to a response to the comment made by the chair of the Parks and Recreation Commission, David Floyd.

His comment pertains to his unprecedented means and methods he uses to force his aggressive planning and actions forward WITHOUT INPUT from the RESIDENTS of Westport. The members of the Westport Community Gardens and other Westporters involved experienced the painful M.O. of the chair already, and probably won’t read the chair’s lengthy comment at all.

What is new and much more severe in the Longshore Plan, which is masterminded by the chair of the PRC?

At the Board of Finance (BOF) meeting on Sept. 6, 2023, the chair of the PRC, David Floyd, did not answer a critical question by the chairman of the BOF truthfully: He LIED! — with the first selectwoman present at the meeting.

What was leading up to this critical 9/6/23 BOF meeting with the Longshore Plan?

The plan was started apparently some time early in 2022 by the Parks and Rec Commission led by Chair Floyd. The 170-acre Longshore Park has a relatively small residential area in the northwest corner which is mutually shared with the public and the permanent residents. The very aggressive and radical Longshore Plan by the chair was developed in 18 MONTHS WITHOUT ANY CONTACT with the permanent residents of Longshore, including us and obviously without any dialogue. 

Apparently the commission hired a survey company “Stantec,” which did a superficial generalized survey paid for by Westport taxpayers. 

Why did STANTEC NOT CONTACT US RESIDENTS? The Longshore residents are the most knowledgeable source of information because they live in Longshore for generations. 

Why not talk to the residents? Because Stantec had to follow the chair’s mindset of ZERO CONTACT with residents. Stantec became a tool for the chair to “legitimize” the extremely aggressive plan for changing Longshore.

We, the residents of Longshore are the victims of one of the aggressive plans by the chair. A pickleball complex with pavilion, parking, etc., was planned in the residential zone a few yards distant from our residence and our neighbors.  

Since the BOF meeting by now is more than four weeks ago, it is probably prudent to reiterate the major events of this critical meeting. The Sept. 6, 2023, BOF meeting which was held in the auditorium of Town Hall and live-streamed was a high-level, very important meeting because First Selectwoman Jennifer Tooker was there and also Jen Fava, director of parks and recreation, and David Floyd, chair of PRC. 

Item  No. 7, the Longshore Plan by the PRC, became center stage.

Chair Floyd started the meeting with going over several zones of his Longshore Plan and was cut off by BOF members to make time for BOF questions. The chairman of the BOF asked David Floyd: Was there a “PUSH-BACK” TO THE LONGSHORE PLAN similar to the events at community gardens at Long Lots?

Chair Floyd was stunned. His answer was “NO” and came after the question was asked a second time.

The NO answer was NOT TRUE. It was a LIE. Was there, in fact, a “PUSH-BACK” by the Longshore residents? YES!

1. There was an e-mail exchange between residents of Longshore and the chair after the 18 months “ZERO-CONTACT” period came to an end and the commission made a final decision on the Longshore Plan and PUSHED FORWARD in the implementation process.This e-mail exchange ended with a B/S from the chair.

2. There was a detailed letter to the first selectwoman with photos dated June 28, 2023, sent by us (me and my husband). NO ANSWER!

3. Finally, there was a big “PUSH-BACK” meeting held on Aug. 14, 2023, at the Longshore administration building with Chair Floyd, RTM members, ALL permanent Longshore Residents and Director of Parks and Recreation Jen Fava.

NO ANSWER by the chair to the request by all residents to move the pickleball court complex to another location in the 170-acre Longshore Park.

After the Aug. 14, 2023, meeting, the chair took the Longshore Plan straight up to the Sept. 6, 2023, BOF meeting. 

Now, after the NO answer to the PUSH-BACK question, the meeting went on seamlessly with P&R Director Fava continuing, point-by-point, with the Longshore Plan, starting with the relocation of the maintenance shack to a flood-zone area. The director responded to one of the BOF members that there is no problem, the maintenance personnel will be informed to stay back. The very high price tag for a new maintenance shack of $7 million was questioned by the BOF member and the director quipped back that the price included inflation. 

The next point, the swimming pools and the question of relining or new construction, was discussed. The director suggested new construction and adding a second “kiddie” pool as a spare pool in case “a little kid had an accident.” 

Next, the director wants to add two more paddle board courts to make the courts ready for international events. Several more points were brought up.

At the end, First Selectwoman Jennifer Tooker was weighing in and explained mostly in lawyerly language the authority and power given to her as a first selectwoman.

Let’s close this letter to the editor with a personal note. We (my husband and I) are now living in our Longshore residence for 49 years, almost half a century. We raised our two children here and are now retired. 

My husband extended his career in the engineering/construction field by many years beyond retirement age to work in rebuilding the World Trade Center after the horrible terrorist attack. My husband went to a meeting in the WTC shortly before the 9/11 disaster. He was lucky that he was not one of the many Westporters that perished on that dreadful day.

A documentary of my husband’s part in the rescue effort shortly after 9/11, which included footage of Westport, was made by an international television station and broadcast in various languages all over the world.

We looked forward for a peaceful retirement in Wesport when we were hit suddenly with that pickleball court complex being very close to our home. We and our next-door neighbor are the most affected by the pickleball complex. We feel that  we are in a “free fall” here in Westport.

Irmi Streidt