AP NEWS

For what it’s worth Zoning Boardmaintains fluid rules

July 12, 2018

So once again the Stamford Zoning Board is in effect rewriting it own regulations to accommodate a developer despite the rejection of the plan by the city’s Planning Board, which has this quaint notion of abiding by the city’s Master Plan. This, despite protests from citizens and two century-old city institutions that would be adversely affected by the establishment of a sprawling country-club type of recreational facility in the virtually empty High Ridge Office Park in a residential neighborhood just off High Ridge Road and possibly in six other office parks in Stamford. Outrageously, the Zoning Board, in rejecting a petition with around 700 names from residents, contended that most were condo owners (who pay city taxes) and thus their signatures were invalid since they are not property owners. Say what? Don’t residents who own condos or apartments count as homeowners? How many times have we experienced similar situations in recent years in The City That Works For Developers. Perhaps the most prominent example involves the illegal destruction of a century-old boatyard by the developer of so-called Harbor Point who also committed a host of zoning violations while building high-rise and high-rent apartment towers along the South End waterfront which longtime residents of the area can’t afford. The latest brazen case would permit the giant fitness company Lifetime Fitness to build a spacious fitness center that would include a lighted outdoor pool visible well beyond the facility. Officials of the company anticipate about 5,000 people would join this super-club, many of whom, Life Fitness apparently assumes, would come from the nearby Italian Center and the Jewish Community Center. These facilities, along with the Stamford YMCA, have lost members to the huge Chelsea Piers and to the fitness center at the Tully Center. Hardest hit has been the Italian Center, which lost several hundred members as a result of a fire and smoke which forced it to close for seven months. Stamford has grown alarmingly fast, but the city hardly seems to be lacking in places to work out. It would be grossly unfair to permit a developer to establish a recreational facility strictly for the sake of profit in a residential neighborhood at the expense of the Italian Center and the Jewish Community Center, nonprofits that have supported community charities and other causes for more than 100 years. The Board of Representatives, which tends to be more sympathetic to the wishes of city residents, has the power to overturn the Zoning Board’s inexplicable decision.

In appearing at so many functions in Stamford and elsewhere in the state, without charging an appearance fee, Bobby Valentine is a city treasure. Even the Japanese government is eminently grateful for what he did during the six years as manager there, such as contributing his services in the aftermath of three earthquakes when he organized charity games to help survivors. To show its appreciation, the Japanese government will award Valentine one of its highest decorations — The Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Rosette — “for his outstanding contributions to the development of Japanese baseball and to the advancement of friendly relations between Japan and the United States” at a ceremony at the Manhattan residence of the Japanese ambassador to the United States. In addition, the award honors Bobby V, for becoming the first American manager to lead a Japanese team to win Japan’s World Series. Valentine, who is now the athletic director at Sacred Heart University, is believed to be the first American manager or player to receive the prestigious award. Other American recipients who’ve already received the Rising Sun award this year are U.S. Sen. John McCain and former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.

Something wrong about this picture: last Saturday and Sunday as late as 7 p.m. there were about 300 people still savoring gorgeous weather at West Beach, with many of them in the water. Same situation, no doubt, at Cummings Beach and at Cove Island. The problem: there were no lifeguards since they go off duty at 6 p.m. every day, except at Quigley Beach at Cove Island where, incredibly, there are no lifeguards this summer. A suggestion: on hot weekend nights keep guards who are willing to do so stay on until 8 p.m. Since lifeguards are limited to short periods on their stands, that could require at least a dozen, or maybe more, guards on overtime. With top pay for lifeguards at $15 an hour, that still would only cost about $500, which would be well worth it given Stamford’s much more crowded beaches and the large number of people in the water after 6 p.m.

In my last column, I questioned why the city had paid five “media specialists” more than $100,000 last year and just what in the world did they do. A further check with Sharon Beadle, spokeswoman for the Board of Education, reveals that Stamford media specialists are what used to be called school librarians but are now concerned with digital and computer issues in addition to handling books and other duties in the city’s 21 media centers, which formerly were called libraries. Ah, progress.

Jack Cavanaugh, a Stamford native and Advocate columnist, is a veteran print and broadcast news reporter and the author of six books.

AP RADIO
Update hourly