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For what it’s worth Some gaps in planned Cummings makeover

September 20, 2018

The Cummings Park beach pavilion is undergoing a three-month-long $270,000 renovation that doesn’t seem to address its biggest problems: bathrooms and showers on the second floor which many beach-goers are unable to use because of physical limitations (there are outdoor showers and small restrooms for the handicapped on the ground floor, which are often used by non-handicapped bathers). The only major change appears to be construction of the open-ended second floor of the pavilion where, according to Erin McKenna, an associate planner for the city’s Land Use Bureau, “people will be able to eat on the second floor and have the most fabulous view in Stamford,” which seems like a bit of hyperbole. Beach-goers will only be able to eat there if they bring their own food or buy food and drinks from a truck on the roadway outside the pavilion. An open-air pavilion will also be set up on the site where a concession stand stood for years. That hardly seems like an improvement over the concession stand which was badly damaged by Hurricane Sandy in 2012 and torn down. It also means the only concession stand at a Stamford beach will be at Cove Island. That won’t seem to be fair to beach-goers at Cummings, which has always seemed to be treated like a poor relation to Cove Island.

Trivia quiz: Who’s the only Stamford athlete to have played in both the National Football League and baseball’s major leagues? Answer later in the column.

Here we are in late summer, and so far as I know paving crews are still nowhere to be seen despite horrible street conditions throughout The City That Doesn’t Always Work. Frankly, I think rutted and pot-holed streets are a far more important issue than the city’s cancellation of the traditional annual leaf collection. Where in the world is all the tax money from the unending construction of luxury apartment buildings, especially in Harbor Point, and the proliferation of restaurants going? I thought all that tax revenue was supposed to keep property taxes down and make Stamford a better place to live. Hasn’t happened. The only major change I’ve seen is virtually insufferable all-day rush-hour-like traffic that seems to strangle the city.

Speaking of Harbor Point, this columnist has been highly critical of its developer, Building & Land Technology, for brazen defiance of city zoning laws and state regulations such as its infamous tearing down of the century-old boatyard while building a virtual high-end town of its own on choice property along the Stamford waterfront which had been fallow for many years. It was all the more jarring because I grew up in the South End neighborhood and accurately predicted none of the existing residents would be able to afford to live in the apartment towers that dominate the Harbor Point skyline. To give credit where credit is due, I came to appreciate the boardwalk BLT built along the waterfront, which is open to the public and affords very scenic views of a marina and Stamford Harbor. I took a recent tour of that boardwalk at the recent SoundWaters HarborFest. To say the least, it’s well worth a visit.

I recently lamented that men could no longer play baseball in Stamford because of the absence of baseball leagues. It turns out I was wrong. Two teams from Stamford play in the 25-year-and-over Connecticut Senior Men’s Baseball League: the Stamford Mets and the Stamford Pirates, who play Sunday mornings at Cubeta Stadium and at Westhill and Stamford high schools. The Pirates play for the Fairfield County Division championship Sunday at Bethel High School against the Newtown Outlaws. Most of the league’s players are in their 20s, 30s and 40s, but one of the Pirates’ pitchers, Dave Moriarty of Wilton, is 66, and the playing manager of the Stamford Mets is a Alan Falkoff, a 60-year-old physician who has played every position except pitcher. Not surprisingly, neither Moriarty nor Falkoff are ready to switch over to slow-pitch softball. “It’s a home run derby that I have no interest in,” said Moriarty, whose fastball still reaches 80 mph and whose 31-year-old son has in the outfield while he pitched in one game this season.

Answer to quiz: The only Stamford athlete to play in the National Football League and in baseball’s major leagues was Johnny Scalzi. Though he was only 5-feet, 7-inches tall and weighed about 165 pounds, Salzi spent one season with the old Brooklyn Dodgers of the NFL as a defensive back in 1931 and got into two games with baseball’s Boston Braves the same year. Scalzi Park is named in honor of Scalzi, who went on to become an outstanding sports official, a member of the Stamford Parks Commission and president of the class B Colonial Baseball League in the late 1940s.

Jack Cavanaugh, a Stamford native and resident, is a longtime print and broadcast reporter and sportswriter, college professor and author of six books, including “Giants Among Men,” about the football Giants teams of the 1950s and 1960s that included Stamford’s Andy Robustelli.

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