A NATURE CENTER AT LACHAT...
This is the field on Godfrey Road now owned by the Town and The Nature Conservancy together that is the quintessential open space view of Weston, CT.  Another field on the property is proposed for parking (on the flat area between natural grade changes)...

JULIANA LACHAT
PRESERVE:
Together with other outbuildings on the 42 acres, the field shown above may welcome
visitors to a future "nature education center" in Weston.  Previous Special Town Meeting votes "yes" (see our report).  The very same Special Town Meeting saw the Revson Field proposal sponsored by the Town and a neighbor (my interpretation:  to ransom or save a tree) went down to a very, how shall we say this nicely, mean-spirited but perhaps not wrong, defeat.  The Lachat house pictured here.  And what about trees in general?  Is the Legislature going to cut back property rights in the next session in response to power company requests in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Irene?  CONSTABLE LANDSCAPE (r)?  NOPE:  Open space privately held, in Greenwich.



"PLAY BALL" IN WESTON!
A promise made, a promise kept.

Map of Weston (l.) prior to any approvals for construction, there was the plan for clearing.  After rehab, Minerva Heady's house remains (next) along new road winding up the hill to...fields (August 2009 photo)!

FIELDS 2005: lots of them.  For softball, soccer but not walking your dog (no dogs allowed).  Practice fields for a variety of sports.  More softball.  Great play, Wild Things 2009!!!  The team website here.

PICTURES (3rd and 4th rows):
On the left, the Prue Bliss Pavilion, where grilling stations for cookouts and covered area to have a picnic were fully utilized this first season (2005).  Fields  number two and four used for Women's Softball (parking ample-- fields for variety of sports in view, too).  At right is picture of field where the Women's Babe Ruth County-wide league held championships (#3);  bottom row shows the slope down to field  number four - which permits an amphitheater-like viewing area for Parks & Rec Women's Slow-Pitch Softball League fans!!!  Columbus Gym won the title this year (defeating Peter's Spirits on Field #4).  Prue Bliss Gazebo, 2009.



WHERE POLITICS MEETS SPORTS: 
Wiffleball in Greenwich, now a tradition?  In 2012, will it be indemnification for use of Town facilities? Guess it was no problem!

GREENWICH WIFFLEBALL FACILITY STORY:  (l to r) Good, Better, Best.
NOTE:  "Green Monster" simulation at left replaced with Yankee Blue at new field!  Notice how neat it is, with a well organized maintenance program.  Wiffle ball uses polo fields for tourney!  No polo club in Weston, just Town Park (see above) for soccer and softball.   Liability issues, 21st century-style.


Hundreds compete for Wiffle ball crown
Christopher Meyer, Greenwich TIME
Updated 09:44 p.m., Saturday, July 21, 2012

Rich Guillod had been on the mound for longer than a professional pitcher, but had no intention of stopping any time soon.

"I'm not going off. I'll just get a cortisone shot when I get home," Guillod, 25, said as he walked back onto the field for the 11th inning of his team's second-round game.

After all, $1,600 and bragging rights were on the line.  Guillod and his teammates, known as Team Ramrod and all from New Canaan, were among the hundreds of players fighting for a grand prize of $1,600 in the fifth annual Greenwich Wiffle Ball Tournament on Saturday.  This year's version of the tournament, at the Greenwich Polo Club, featured 64 teams, as well as a revamped set of regulations that included a mercy rule and a home run derby that ran simultaneously with the tournament games. The new features were added at the request of the players.

"It's all about what the kids want," said organizer Jenny Byxbee, who also said tournament officials had worked to follow through on a request from younger children for more ice cream. "If you keep it within what the kids care about, people show up. They care so much about this field and this tournament."

The tourney's winning team was Doom from Massachusetts, comprising members Adam Trotta, Dallas Mall, Troy Park and Matty Griffin. The Killer K's from Stamford (Mike Keane, Tim Keane, Scotty Caporizzo and Christian Hollendonner) took second and $800.

Rather than play each other, two father-son teams split the third-place pot. The teams were Legarm (Mike, George, Larry and Matt Rzeznik) and Barefoot Weasles (Max and Scott Barefoot, Chris and Lukas Manthey and John Foley). Legarm also claimed the family division title.

Hoboken Caught Stealing from New Jersey took the youth division crown.

The adult winner of the home run derby, which included 70 players, was Chuck Carino of the Red Mongos with 14 homers. Team Thunder Bagels' Phil Giordano smacked 13 home runs to win the youth division.

While ultra-competitive groups like Team Ramrod drew the largest crowds over the course of the day, the tournament also featured a number of more relaxed teams who were simply enjoying a game of Wiffle ball in the sunshine. Many of these teams consisted of younger players, who were more interested in the sport than the prize.  "Our main motivation for being here is that six years from now we'll be playing for the cash prize," said Greenwich resident Andy Karetsky, as he watched his son Jake, 12, dig into the pitcher's mound. "Every year, I've wanted to play in this tournament, but he was too young. This year, (Jake) decided that we would do it father-son."

Even teams dead set on winning the top prize said they appreciated the opportunity to take a step back and enjoy the game.

"This was really a light-hearted game," said Eric Pelleni, 24, a third-year participant whose team defeated Karetksy's team through the mercy rule. "We were kind of at the other guys' throats in the other game, so this was a nice change of pace. I actually enjoyed that game."

Pelleni and his teammates, all of whom recently graduated from college and played competitive baseball, were representative of the more passionate groups at the tournament, some of whom hailed from neighboring towns like New Canaan and Stamford, or even states like New York, New Jersey and Maryland.

Philip Giordano, a Greenwich baseball coach who coached both the Thunder Bagels and the Glenville All-Americans at the tournament, spent the day observing games across the polo grounds, and said the competitive fire of some teams likely went beyond just financial gain.

"Some of these guys play this as a hobby, or they travel around to tournaments and leagues throughout the county," said Giordano, whose son Philip Jr. was at the time leading the home-run derby. "They're all done with competitive sports, but this keeps the spirit alive for them."

That was particularly apparent in Team Ramrod's marathon game, which was replete with spectacular catches, strikeouts and thrown bats. Guillod, known affectionately as "Goo" by his teammates, pitched 22 innings before teammate Nick Gallo, 16, smashed a walk-off home run to end the game 1-0.


Greenwich facility users required to sign new liability waiver

Greenwich TIME
Neil Vigdor, Staff Writer
Updated 09:53 p.m., Friday, January 27, 2012

Looking to keep ambulance-chasers at bay, Greenwich is broadening the scope of indemnification or "hold harmless" language that is included with special event and park permit applications.

Users of municipally owned facilities and participants in active recreation programs must agree to hold the town harmless from all claims, demands, suits, proceedings, liabilities, judgments, awards, losses and damages arising out of injuries to any people or property, under the new language.  The Board of Selectmen unanimously approved the revisions to the town's indemnification policy, which was already on the books, at its most recent meeting at Town Hall.

"You know what? I think gone are the days of signs, `Play at your own risk,' " Selectman Drew Marzullo said.

The town flirted with including the provisions on beach card applications but stopped short after park officials raised concerns about the red tape involved with such an undertaking.

"Do we want every person who applies for a beach pass to sign an indemnification release?" Aamina Ahmad, an assistant town attorney, told the selectmen.  Parks Director Joseph Siciliano estimated that his department issued 46,000 beach cards in 2011, a figure that includes daily passes sold to nonresidents and residents who opted not to purchase seasonal cards.

"Obviously, an administrative nightmare to try to deal with this," Siciliano said of making beachgoers sign a waiver.

Lawyers for the town also acknowledged the potential difficulty of having beachgoers sign waivers for family members or their guests.

"Courts have not looked very favorably on a person releasing a municipality from liability for somebody else," Ahmad said.

First Selectman Peter Tesei, the town's chief elected official, endorsed the new language.

"This is consistent with practices elsewhere," Tesei said.

"I don't see this as having any impediment to people participating, but it is protecting the town and (its) taxpayers."

Among the questions posed to Ahmad was whether the language insulates the town from lawsuits if a person injures their leg after stepping in a hole on a municipal athletic field, for example.

"You're right. Anybody can sue. It's a free country," Ahmad said.

In December 2010, Greenwich successfully defended itself against a multimillion-dollar lawsuit brought by a town man who was struck in the face with a softball near a Bruce Park softball field.  During trial, lawyers for Anthony Catalano argued his injuries were a direct result of the town's negligence in constructing and maintaining a field that did not have the proper dimensions according to the Amateur Softball Association's constitution.  But lawyers for the town argued the town was not liable for any damages because there are no state or federal regulations governing the measurements of the field.

In December 2004, the town of Greenwich and its insurance carriers agreed to pay more than $6 million to a Greenwich doctor who was injured in January 2000 while sledding near the Western Greenwich Civic Center.  Nicholas Stroumbakis, a town resident and Greenwich Hospital urologist, seriously injured his back and right leg when his sled slammed into a drainage ditch near the base of a sledding hill near the Western Greenwich Civic Center. He was making one last run down the hill after an afternoon spent sledding with his son, Michael, who was 4 years old at the time.

Tesei asked the town's law department Thursday to look into whether the indemnification language applies to parades held in Greenwich.

"To me, there's exposure there because of people walking on our streets, not our sidewalks," Tesei said.


Parks committee votes against Dell'Abate appointment
Greenwich TIME
Neil Vigdor, Staff Writer
Published 11:05 p.m., Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Wary of the circus-like atmosphere that has surrounded "Howard Stern Show" producer Gary Dell'Abate's candidacy for the town parks board, a key Representative Town Meeting committee refused to support his appointment Tuesday night.

The RTM's Parks and Recreation voted 7--5 against Dell'Abate, expressing grave concerns about airing town business on the shock jock's satellite radio show. Dell'Abate -- aka Baba Booey -- plays Stern's sidekick on the show.

The committee decision does not prevent Dell'Abate from continuing the confirmation process. His appointment to the volunteer board is subject to confirmation by the full 230-member RTM March 14.

Though they didn't refer to it outright, several committee members alluded to a recent incident in which a RTM critic of Dell'Abate's received a plastic bag of feces in her mailbox with an anonymous note from a Stern fan.

"I think, Gary, you really have to get a handle on your fan club," said Wilma Nacinovich, who represented District 2/Harbor during the vote. "It's really out of control."

Dell'Abate, 49, interviewed with the committee for just under an hour, fielding questions about everything from erosion in the Mianus River Park to his ability to separate his public service from his on-air antics.

"I would never come in the next morning and say, 'You're not going to believe what happened last night,'" Dell'Abate said.

"Gary, I really am impressed by your enthusiasm. I have to tell you, the thing I'm really concerned about is the public/private issue," said David Detjen, a committee member from District 10/Northwest. "We don't want to have members of the board who are afraid to speak up."

A resident of Old Greenwich for the past 16 years who is married with two sons, Dell'Abate was unanimously nominated in January by the selectmen for the parks board.

Playing an advisory role in town government, the nine-member board has been a springboard for everything from beach-access policies and playground projects to park fees and a master inventory of available playing fields. Terms run for three years.

Dell'Abate is part of the coaching staff of the North Mianus Bulldogs, of the Greenwich Youth Football League, a position he has held for the past nine years.

He has also coached baseball for the Old Greenwich-Riverside Community Center, as well as Cal Ripken and Junior Babe Ruth leagues in town.

The eldest of Dell'Abate's two sons, who are 16 and 13, plays football at Greenwich High School.

"I've know Gary for probably about 11 years now. He was always willing to do the simple work," said Gregory Schulte, a committee member from District 12/Haveymeyer who has coached with Dell'Abate.

About 30 crammed into a small third-floor conference room at Town Hall to listen to the interview, including Coline Jenkins, a member of the RTM Appointments Committee who accused Dell'Abate of degrading women on the show.

The great-great-granddaughter of suffragette Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Jenkins was the recipient of the infamous bag of feces in her mailbox.

"I think that bullying on a field is unacceptable as well as bullying in other public arenas," Jenkins said.


Swing, batter, batter, swing: Townwide Wiffle ball tourney Saturday
Neil Vigdor, Staff Writer
Published: 10:11 p.m., Friday, July 16, 2010

The sport of millionaires is deferring to the sandlot game.

A record number of teams are signed up to play in a townwide Wiffle ball tournament Saturday at the Greenwich Polo Club, the third installment of the round-robin competition.

The tournament was created in 2008 in response to the public relations nightmare that enveloped the town when a group of teens was evicted from a vacant municipal lot in Riverside that they converted into a Wiffle ball field because of liability concerns and neighbor complaints.

Sixty teams, each consisting of four players, will vie for the $1,600 first-place prize during the event, which gets under way at 8:45 a.m.

"We are completely full," said Ron Young Jr., managing director of Belray Capital, a Greenwich-based real estate investment and management firm and a repeat event sponsor. "The majority of the tournament was signed up two weeks ago. So it's really, really catching some incredible attention."

The tournament's sponsors, which include the Greenwich Police Department, the United Way of Greenwich, Golden Ticket Events, Garden Catering and Greenwich Time, are hoping to build a permanent Wiffle ball field with proceeds from the event and future competitions.

Among the spectators will be First Selectman Peter Tesei.

"The goal is to make some money and design a field," Tesei said.

The tournament entry fee is $100 per team. The second- and third-place teams will get $800 and $400, respectively. The rain date is Sunday.

While the number of teams keeps growing, Young said getting sponsors hasn't been as easy.

"So it's going to take us a little longer than expected to build a Wiffle ball field," Young said.

The location is still up for discussion, with park officials bandying about as candidates a field behind the International School at Dundee in Riverside where the teens were relocated during the controversy and a space behind the Greenwich Civic Center in Old Greenwich.

"I think they're playing wherever they can get some space to play," said Joseph Siciliano, the town's parks director.

Young said the town should pick a central location close to public transportation, throwing out the idea of a small park on William Street in the historic Fourth Ward.

The teen Wiffle ball players made national and international headlines two summers ago when they commandeered a vacant half-acre lot on Riverside Lane, building a miniature version of Boston's Fenway Park, complete with outfield fences, bleachers, a backstop and the fabled Green Monster. The vacant lot was valued at $1.25 million.

Bowing to complaints from neighbors about noise and security, the town evicted the teens from the lot and sent workers with the protection of a police escort to demolish the field.

Town officials cited liability concerns, the negative precedent of allowing squatters to use public land and potential damage to neighboring private properties in their decision to shut down the field.


Townwide Wiffle ball tourney turns summer pastime into serious competition
Greenwich TIME
By Lisa Chamoff, staff writer
Posted: 07/18/2009 09:22:32 PM EDT
Updated: 07/19/2009 12:50:11 AM EDT

GREENWICH -- Vincent Provenzano and his teammates didn't have much of an opportunity to practice before taking to the field at the Greenwich Polo Club for Saturday's town-wide Wiffle ball tournament.

But after winning two morning games with his team Bomb Squad, Provenzano, 18 -- who had helped build the controversial Wiffle ball field on a vacant town-owned lot in Riverside last year -- was pretty confident.

"We're doing good. We're going to win," said Provenzano, who recently graduated from Greenwich High School.

"We played a lot last year," said Provenzano, whose team eventually captured third place. "We haven't played much this year."

There were 40 four-member teams at Conyers Farm battling it out for the first-place prize of $1,600. That was up from 26 teams last year, when the tournament was created in response to the teens' eviction from the half-acre field, where they had created a miniature replica of Boston's Fenway Park, complete with outfield fences, bleachers and a backstop.

Taking home the top prize Saturday was the Red Mongros, made up of Brian and Bobby Bailey, Chuck Carino and Chris Bortot. Second place went to the team of Joe, Larry, George and Mike Rzeznik, who called themselves Leg Arm.

Ron Young Jr., managing director of Belray Capital, a Greenwich-based real estate investment and management firm and one of the event's sponsors, had run Wiffle ball tournaments years ago, and saw an opportunity to once again

gather locals together for the popular summer pastime.

Despite the laid-back atmosphere, it was a well-run event. Young shouted orders to the teams from a megaphone and other organizers traveled the grounds in a golf cart.

Michael Micik, who graduated from Greenwich High School in 2007, occasionally plays Wiffle ball in his yard on Morningside Drive when he's not playing baseball.

Micik, 20, who fielded Team Lifestyles with his brother Brendan and a couple of friends, said conditions at the Greenwich Polo Club were perfect for Wiffle ball.

"The grass is really nice," said Micik, who attends Springfield College in Massachusetts. "A lot of times when we play at my house, the grass is a lot higher."

Last year the tournament -- which took in $10,000 for a permanent Wiffle ball field that the organizers eventually hope to build in town -- was held in September, when many teens had gone off to college. There were many more younger players on this weekend day.

"I think doing it in the summer was a home run," said Jenny Byxbee, the town's youth services coordinator.


Wiffle ball field neighbor may be over the line
Stamford ADVOCATE
By Neil Vigdor,Staff Writer
Article Launched: 09/25/2008 02:54:31 AM EDT

GREENWICH - Town officials said a Riverside homeowner who complained that a group of teens crossed the line when they commandeered the municipally-owned lot next to his for an unauthorized Wiffle ball field is over the line himself - the boundary between the two properties.

A recently completed survey of the property lines between municipal Lot 5A and a residential parcel at 100 Riverside Lane ordered by the town shows that the homeowner, Thomas Gallagher, is encroaching on the land that was at the center of a national controversy this summer dubbed as Wiffle-gate.

A mailbox, white picket fence and several bushes belonging to Gallagher appear to be over the property line, which the town demarcated with a wooden stake at the edge of Gallagher's driveway.

First Selectman Peter Tesei said Gallagher will be receiving a letter from town attorneys instructing him to correct the matter.

"I think the intent here is to ensure the integrity of the town's property," said Tesei, who didn't know how many feet of the town's property was being encroached upon.

Tom Heagney, a Greenwich lawyer who represents Gallagher, said that his client likely will have his own survey of the property boundaries done before taking any action.

"It's always good to have another surveyor confirm what is out in the field and on the survey," Heagney said.

Gallagher drew the ire of several teens and their parents this summer when he reported the makeshift field to the town and raised concerns about noise, traffic, illegal parking and security.

The town demolished the makeshift Wiffle ball field, including a 12-foot-high replica of Fenway Park's Green Monster, because of liability concerns, the precedent of allowing squatters on municipal property and complaints from neighbors.

Tesei said parents of one of the teens brought the encroachment matter to the town's attention.

"It's no secret that it surfaced as a result of the use of the town lot, but that doesn't mean we can't ignore it," Tesei said.

Amy Siebert, the town's new public works commissioner, said it is not unusual to find instances of encroachment on town property and that it is doubtful officials would allow Gallagher to keep a structure or plantings on the lot.

Town officials dismissed the possibility of Gallagher trying to claim the land as his through adverse possession or squatter's rights.

"They can't claim that the municipal property is now their property," Siebert said.

Heagney, the attorney for Gallagher, said his client doesn't perceive the town's actions as retribution for his opposition to the Wiffle ball field.

"It's something that we expected the town to proceed with to determine where the boundaries of the property are. This isn't a surprise to us at all," Heagney said.


Play (Wiffle) ball! Local tourney takes over
Stamford ADVOCATE
By Meredith Blake
Article Launched: 09/21/2008 02:43:38 AM EDT

It was a far cry from the makeshift field Pirovenzano and a group of Greenwich teens created on municipal land in Riverside over the summer. That field was eventually closed down by the town because of liability concerns.

"It's fantastic out here," said Pirovenzano. "It's perfect for playing."

The tournament, organized by the Greenwich Police Department, Junior United Way and Belray Capital, was the culmination of more than five weeks of work.

"It's really fun out here today. The field is so perfect. It's a big step up," said Justin Currytto, 17. "The field we created is nothing like this, but we put a lot of work into it. It was our place to go."

Thirty-two four-player teams, each of which ponied up $100 to enter, set out to win the daylong, double-elimination tournament to raise money for the creation of a Wiffle ball field in Greenwich.  People young and old stepped up to the plate, making use of 100 Wiffle balls and 20 bats. Some teams wore matching T-shirts, with the name of the team on them.

"It's such a nice event for the kids," said Old Greenwich resident Michael D'Angelo, 42, who was out playing with a team.

Ten fields were set up on the polo fields, demarcated by white tape.  More than 100 people attended the event to cheer on the teams, which included groups from throughout Fairfield County and New York. Ron Young Jr., managing director of Belray Capital, a Greenwich-based real estate investment and management firm, said he got involved with the tournament because from 1995 to 2000, he organized the town Wiffle ball tournament at Western Middle School.

On Saturday, he played with his brother and some friends. He struck out the side while pitching one inning.

"I think today has been a success. It's a beautiful day, and I think everybody had a good time," Young said.

Players and spectators were provided with hot dogs, sandwich wedges and drinks donated for the game.

"I think this event is really good for us," said Scott Atkinson, 13.

When the Riverside field was shut down, he was disappointed and frustrated.

"I was pretty sad. I felt like all our hard work was being put down in five minutes," he said. "But seeing all the community support has made it better."

And that was police Officer Richard Stook's hope when he came up with the idea for the tournament. "We wanted to generate something positive from the situation," he said.

Police teamed up with the Junior United Way and Belray Capital to make the tournament happen.

"It all just came together perfectly," Stook said.

Organizers had five weeks to find sponsors, which included Greenwich Time, the Silver Shield Association police union, Pepsi and the Greenwich Oldtimers Athletic Association.

They raised about $20,000 and hope to raise even more.

Stook, who umpired at the tournament, said Wiffle ball is a great game for all ages.

"It more than met my expectations," said Jenny Byxbee, Greenwich Youth Services coordinator for the Junior United Way. "We made a small start and a big start in bringing the community together."

The winning team - Belray Capital - walked away with $1,600. The Giants took second with $800 and the $400 third-place prize went to the Silver Monkey.


Game on: Wiffle ball players' dreams fulfilled
Stamford ADVOCATE
By Neil Vigdor, Staff Writer
Article Launched: 09/20/2008 01:00:00 AM EDT

Even the teenagers in Greenwich have an eye for prime real estate.

A group of high schoolers banished from playing Wiffle ball on a $1.25 million municipal-owned lot is taking over the Greenwich Polo Club today - this time with the necessary approvals - for a town-wide tournament, supplanting the wine-and-cheese, divot-stomping crowd.

The Greenwich Polo Club is located in Conyers Farm, a gated enclave off North Street in the backcountry with its own security force and where homes sell from $7 million to $15 million, according to the local assessor's office.

"I've driven by and said, 'Oh, I want to go in there, but I never actually have been. The field is so huge,' " said Tim Bellantoni, 16, a Greenwich High School senior who dreamed up the idea of the tournament.

About 25 four-player teams are expected to compete in the day-long tournament, which costs $100 per team to enter. Play is slated to begin at 9 a.m. and the rain date is Sunday. Admission for adult spectators is $10 per person and $5 for children under 12. The winning team in the double-elimination tournament will walk away with $1,600. The prizes for second and third place are $800 and $400, respectively.

Teams can still register for the tournament before play begins.

"When you think about it, (polo) is such a high-end sport, and it's us playing on the field. It's something different," said GHS junior Brett Atkinson, 16, who was still lining up players Friday for his Riverside Rebels team.

Tim, Brett and several of their friends made national and international headlines this summer when they commandeered a vacant half-acre lot on Riverside Lane for a Wiffle ball field, erecting outfield fences and attracting curiosity-seekers from as far as New Jersey.

But the town demolished the makeshift Wiffle ball field, including a 12-foot-high replica of Fenway Park's Green Monster wall built by the teens because of liability concerns, the precedent of allowing squatters on municipal property and complaints from neighbors.  Since then, there has been a void.

"Whenever I'm home and have nothing better to do, I just pitch at the side of the house," said Tim, whose team in today's tournament is called the Fantastic Four.

Tim organized today's tournament with help from the United Way of Greenwich, local police and members of the business community.  Organizers spent several hours Friday dividing the massive polo field, which measures 300 yards long by 160 yards wide, into 10 smaller fields for Wiffle ball.

"It's going to look like a flea on a dog with only 10 fields," said Keith Hirsch, a police neighborhood resource officer for the western part of town.

Hirsch and fellow neighborhood resource officer Rich Stook have been helping to organize the tournament, from soliciting sponsors to setting up the base paths to umpiring some of today's games.

"Hey guys, that's got to be a 90-degree angle," Stook told the other organizers as they put down the foul lines on one of the fields.

Proceeds from today's tournament, which will also feature a home run derby, will go to staging future tournaments, said organizers, who have their eyes on a loftier goal.

"In the end, the goal is to build a permanent field," said Ron Young Jr., managing director of Belray Capital, a Greenwich-based real estate investment and management firm and a tournament sponsor.

Young estimated that organizers had raised $22,000 in donations from a myriad of sponsors, which include Greenwich Time, the Silver Shield Association police union, Pepsi and the Greenwich Oldtimers Athletic Association.  This is not the first time Greenwich will be hosting such an event.

From 1995 to 2000, Young organized an annual Wiffle ball tournament at Western Middle School that he said drew as many as 300 people, including Hirsch, the neighborhood resource officer.  In addition to money, food and beverages were donated for today's event by Pepsi and several local eateries.  A number of adults are expected to play in today's tournament, including Young, who said he would donate any winnings back to the cause if his team prevails.

Some adults couldn't help but let the kid in them show Friday while the fields were being set up, including Sgt. Michael Reynolds, head of the police department's Neighborhood Resource Section.

"All right, game on," said Reynolds, who took two big swings and missed the Wiffle ball before making contact, bearing the brunt of jokes from the other officers.


New Wiffle ball field opens
Greenwich TIME
By Neil Vigdor, Staff Writer
Article Launched: 07/26/2008 01:00:00 AM EDT

Welcome to the House that Lawyers Built.

Exactly one week after they were kicked out of a municipally-owned lot in Riverside in a tearful farewell, a group of jaded teens christened a new Wiffle ball field yesterday that the town created for them behind the International School at Dundee.

"It's better than nothing, I guess," Brett Atkinson, 16, said as he roamed his new environs.

Behind him in the outfield, workers from the parks department hammered stakes into the ground and put up blue mesh safety fencing, making good on the town's promise to find the teens a new home.

"We just wanted to get it to the point where you guys could play this weekend," Joseph Siciliano, the town's parks director, told the teens.

Brett hit the last home run at the old ball yard on Riverside Lane, which the town, on the advice of its legal counsel, ordered shut down because of liability concerns and complaints from neighbors who hired their own lawyer to oppose the field. The half-acre lot chosen by the teens was set aside as a drainage area when the surrounding subdivision was built in the late 1940s.

"At the old field, it was either a single or a home run," Brett said nostalgically.

The scene yesterday at Dundee School, within a bike ride of the previous field, was a sharp contrast from the previous Friday, when a demolition crew knocked down outfield fences erected by the teens while they watched, including a 12-foot high replica of Fenway Park's Green Monster wall.

Siciliano presented the teens with several Wiffle balls and bats that he said he had searched high and low for Thursday night at a sporting goods store.

"(The salesman) said there's a run on those bats," Siciliano said, alluding to the national attention the teens' story has received.

Siciliano then reminisced with the teens about playing a variation of Wiffle ball while growing up in Chickahominy.

"We'd cut a broom handle for a bat," Siciliano said.

If the old field was a band box, the new one is a pitcher's park, with dead center field 110-feet from home plate, 10 feet deeper than its predecessor. It's 90 feet down the lines.

The teens got to choose the dimensions, as well as the color of mesh safety fences. They settled on blue, a departure from the green plywood walls of their former field of dreams. Siciliano said the town spent about $700 on the fencing.

"It's good, but the other field was cool," said Jackie Calagna, 15, who, a week earlier, was in tears when the old ball yard was being demolished.

The lot commandeered by the teens was fraught with liability issues, according to town officials, who said an exposed storm drain could lead to an injury and a lawsuit. If the storm drain gets backed up, town officials said it could cause flooding and property damage to neighboring homes that also could trigger a lawsuit.

Several neighboring homeowners complained to the town that the field created noise, parking, traffic and security problems for the neighborhood.

"They're just neighborhood kids. This is just a very constructive approach of giving them a place to be," Siciliano said.

Town officials chose Dundee School because there were already base paths, a backstop for softball, ample parking and portable toilets for the teens to use. In addition to installing the fencing, which is collapsible in case somebody runs into it, the town brought over some small bleachers to the field.

"They asked to put their (American) flags up, which is fine," Siciliano said. "The only thing we asked is that they don't do any advertising."

Tim Bellantoni, 17, hit the first home run, a shot to left field, at the new field yesterday. He said he is organizing a town-wide Wiffle ball tournament for late August at the Conyers Farm "polo grounds" and hopes to field 60 teams of four people, with each squad paying a $100 entry fee.

The teens will be allowed to use the new field until school goes back in session at the end of August, when the town will look for another facility for them to use.

"There's got to be a corner of the world where we can send them to," Siciliano said, quipping. "You guys are getting a dome for the winter. We budgeted for it."

The new field is not without its amenities, however. The teens no longer have to be their own grounds crew.

"When do they come and cut this?" Brett asked Siciliano about the grass.

Parks workers usually visit each of the fields in town once a week, Siciliano responded.

"If it gets high, give us a call," he said.



Tesei shuts Wiffle ball field over liability worries

Greenwich TIME
By Neil Vigdor, Staff Writer
Article Launched: 07/17/2008 01:00:00 AM EDT

First Selectman Peter Tesei yesterday ordered a Wiffle ball field built by teens on town land in Riverside to be shut down because of liability concerns.

In a closed-door meeting, Tesei notified the teens of the decision about the field, built without authorization on a flood-prone lot and opposed by several neighbors. The field is to be shut down tomorrow.

The decision came as a crushing blow to the teens, who spent three weeks clearing the lot of dense thicket and erecting plywood fences in the outfield, including a replica of Fenway Park's Green Monster, bleachers, foul poles and a back-stop.

"They're knocking the wall down," Brett Atkinson, 16, said. "We're all sad about it."

Tesei said it was difficult being the bearer of bad news to the teens.

"I would put it as the least pleasant day of my administration. I can certainly relate to the youths," Tesei said. "It was like a wake for them today."

Tesei said allowing the teens to stay at the lot, which they did not have permission to use, would set a negative precedent for the town.

Set aside as buffer area for stormwater to drain, he said the property presents a variety of liability issues. It has an exposed drain pipe that could result in injury of one of the teens, Tesei said, adding that damage to neighboring properties is also a concern.

"If there is flooding and it impacts the residents, they're going to hold us responsible," Tesei said.

Tesei, the town's chief elected official, offered to let the teens use a field at the International School at Dundee for the remainder of the summer for Wiffle ball. That was of little consolation to some of the teens, however.

"I didn't really like it," Brett said.

The teens' supporters, who have grown exponentially since the controversy erupted two weeks ago, were outraged.

"What a damn shame," said Riverside resident Fran Fox, whose nieces and nephews play at the field. "Why can't the kids sign waivers or have their parents sign waivers that they won't hold the town responsible if they get hurt?"

Fox said she was disappointed in her town and said the decision sends a bad message.

"They sit around and talk about these fat American children. Here, these kids, instead of sitting inside playing Nintendo, are outside playing."

Fox said the lot has been used by children of the neighborhood going back several generations when the subdivision was built for returning World War II veterans.

"I hope that they protest this," she said of the teens.

Tesei's decision to shut down the field occurred four days after he met with several neighbors and listened to their concerns about parking, traffic, noise, security and how the teens never got permission to develop the lot. The homeowners provided Tesei photos of flooding on the lot, litter and building materials that were removed from a nearby home under construction and found at the lot.

The field is accessed by a narrow grass pathway between residential properties at 96 and 100 Riverside Lane. Homeowners reached by Greenwich Time said they were relieved that the town was finally taking steps to mitigate the problem, but declined further comment.

Sam Romeo, who is chairman of the East Sector of the Community and Police Partnership, an alliance of residents and law enforcement, said the property should be designated as a pocket park for the teens to use.

"It's just one more black eye for the town," Romeo said of the decision. "I think the whole aspect of being a kid has changed. It's not easy being a kid in this town and any town with all the rules."

Tesei said he didn't know what time the walls will be taken down at the field tomorrow.

Don't count on the teens to be there when it happens, however.

"We're not even going to go that day," Brett said. "Nobody wants to see them knock our field down."



Why is this important to the region?  Because it is in the flight path of airport - more on this issue here.
Sacred Heart convent purchases 110 acres
Lisa Chamoff, Staff Writer, Greenwich TIME
Published 11:06 p.m., Monday, November 21, 2011


The sloping grounds off King Street have been home to Convent of the Sacred Heart for more than 65 years.

Recently, the independent Catholic girls' school achieved a long-awaited milestone when it acquired the deed for the 110 acres on which the campus is located from the Society of the Sacred Heart, which opened the school in 1945.

Along with the deed, the school also acquired 60 additional acres, beyond the 50 it already controls, for $9 million.

Head of School Pamela Juan Hayes said the purchase achieves a long-range goal for Sacred Heart, and came a time that was mutually beneficial for the school and the society, which has been focusing on caring for its elderly nuns.

"This was always the plan, that at some point in history we would reverse the ownership to the school," Hayes said. "With increased costs in their health and elder care, it was right for us and them."

The school has been talking about acquiring the land for about 18 years, said Paula Tennyson, chairwoman of the school's board of trustees. The school put money aside for the initial $4 million payment, and will pay the remainder to the society over the next seven years.

The acquisition is unique for the school, which is part of a 22-school network of Sacred Heart schools in the U.S. and a global network of educational institutions in 41 countries.

It was back in the 1970s that the Society of the Sacred Heart began transferring the operation of schools to individual boards, said Tennyson, who grew up in Westchester County, N.Y., and whose daughter graduated from a Sacred Heart school in Bloomfield Hills, Mich. Tennyson served on that school's board, and has also served on the board for the Sacred Heart network of schools.

Acquiring the land furthers the school's independence, Tennyson said, and will allow Convent of the Sacred Heart to embark on expansion projects without the time necessary to receive approval from the society, though the relationship has always worked well.

"Owning it ourselves, your destiny is in your own hands," Tennyson said.

Over the years, the school has made improvements to its media center, and recently undertook a major landscaping project in front of the historic mansion that houses administrative offices, classrooms, a chapel, an art gallery and dining rooms. The school is in the process of connecting to the town water system.

For Hayes, a 1964 Sacred Heart graduate who became the school's first lay leader in 2009 after teaching English and drama, the purchase has a more personal meaning.

"This school has been a home for me and thousands of girls throughout the years," Hayes said. "It's wonderful to think this will continue in perpetuity."



Moving a Historic Home

David W. Dunlap/The New York Times
After being raised over a church’s side porch, Alexander Hamilton’s country home was perched on Convent Avenue. Its journey to St. Nicholas Park on Saturday should take three to six hours.

Hamilton Home Heads to a Greener Address
NYTIMES
By DAVID W. DUNLAP
Published: June 7, 2008

No matter that Alexander Hamilton’s country home, the Grange, is 206 years old. Until now, it had been in a perfectly contemporary Manhattan real estate bind: not enough space.

What to do? Move, of course.

So on Saturday, the two-story, 298-ton wood-frame house will be rolled conspicuously — and slowly — from its cramped site on Convent Avenue to an appropriately verdant new location a block away in St. Nicholas Park, facing West 141st Street. That is as close as it can get these days to the rural setting for which it was originally designed.

Once new foundations are completed, a yearlong, $8.4 million restoration and reconstruction will undo decades of unsympathetic alterations to the house, known formally as the Hamilton Grange National Memorial.

Stephen Spaulding, chief of the architectural preservation division in the National Park Service’s Northeast region, said the 500-foot move on Saturday should take three to six hours.

But in a sense, the journey has taken almost half a century. In 1962, President John F. Kennedy authorized the Interior Department to assume ownership of the house on the condition that it be moved to a suitable location.

As redevelopment sagas go, the story of the Grange ranks among the most protracted. For want of money and almost any concerted political will to get the deed done, at least until recent years, the Grange languished in near-obscurity as other historical landmarks gained a higher profile.

Visitors have found the Grange jammed between a six-story apartment house and St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, its formal front facade abutting the church and all but invisible. Nor is this even its original location. Until 1889, when it was moved for the first time, the house was on 143rd Street, west of Convent Avenue.

Lost in the intervening years was any public sense that the founding father on the $10 bill, the nation’s first treasury secretary, had lived in Harlem; that a creator of the federal government passed his last two years in a refined country estate designed by John McComb Jr., an architect of City Hall, from which he departed in 1804 for the duel with Aaron Burr that cost him his life.

Now, in the house he left behind, Hamilton is again coming to life. To their joy, National Park Service officials have discovered that the front stairway, though much modified over time, is essentially the one built for Hamilton, complete with original risers, treads, balusters, ornamental scrollwork and support structure. It will be rebuilt in its original form.

“Alexander Hamilton ran up those very treads!” said Steve Laise, chief of cultural resources of Manhattan sites for the National Park Service, which owns and runs the Grange. “It just puts you in such close proximity with the past. For those of us who really wish we were living back then anyway, it’s probably more of a stimulus to our imagination than we really ought to have.”

Lovely exterior details are also evident for the first time in more than a century, including a triple-hung sash window. Smaller windows on either side have an alternating star-and-circle tracery. “That kind of pattern is well rooted in 18th-century Anglo-American design practice,” said Seth Joseph Weine, a fellow of the Institute of Classical Architecture and Classical America.

Last week, the Grange was raised up and over a loggia, or side porch, at St. Luke’s and now sits on steel beams atop nine dollies in the middle of Convent Avenue. On Saturday, it will be rolled down the avenue; turned east onto 141st Street; rolled down a hillside with a 6 percent grade, past Steinman Hall of City College; turned south at Hamilton Terrace; then rolled into the park.

Windows, especially those at the corners, will be among the most vulnerable areas. To reduce any chance that the structure will shift out of shape, it is being bound tightly with wire rope and tied diagonally to the beams on which it is now supported. The chimneys are also to be braced.

Twice during the move, the house will be inspected. Windows will be tested to ensure that they are operable, meaning that no undue pressure is being exerted against the frames. Existing plaster cracks, already documented, will be checked to make certain they are not widening. If problems do arise, Mr. Spaulding said the house can be releveled by adjusting the blocking between the steel beams and the frame of the structure.

For now, he does not anticipate any need to halt the move outright.

As for that 6 percent slope on 141st Street, Mr. Spaulding said the contractor “is very confident that the grade is not going to be a problem.”

“He’s moved houses down grades like that before,” he added. The move itself is being done by Wolfe House and Building Movers of Bernville, Pa. The general contractor is Integrated Construction Enterprises of Belleville, N.J.

Each of the nine dollies has its own propulsion and braking system, Mr. Spaulding said, powered electrically and hydraulically. “If there’s any failure of the systems,” he said, “the brakes lock up.” There are four brakes on each dolly, for a total of 36 brakes.

Mr. Spaulding and his colleagues will breathe easier on Saturday night, but given the reconstruction and restoration ahead, they will not have much chance to relax. “Our goal for reopening the house would be the fall of next year,” he said. “There’s a lot more work to do.”





Not a cell tower - this is the equipment noted below measuring CO2 emissions.
'No solution' found in more trees
By Richard Black, BBC science correspondent
Planting trees in the Amazon to curb global warming is unlikely to work.

Brazilian and US scientists have found the rainforest emits more of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide than it absorbs when conditions are very wet.  Their report, published in the journal Science, comes just three days before the latest United Nations negotiations on climate change take
place in Milan.  The researchers say previous studies have almost certainly over-estimated how much CO2 the Amazon can take in.

The study by Scott Saleska, from Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, is pertinent because the idea of using forests to curb global warming forms a central plank of the Kyoto Protocol.  The treaty allows countries to plant new trees and conserve old forests rather then cut the amount of greenhouse gases they produce.

But this latest research undertaken over three years in the Amazon provides graphic new evidence that the relationship between trees and carbon dioxide is a complex one.  Saleska's study of old-growth Amazonian rainforest shows clearly that drought or other disturbances that kill trees can lead to higher levels of carbon dioxide release.  These increases in carbon loss occur during wet seasons when the dead wood breaks down, not during the dry season as has been generally found.

Many environmentalists believe that politicians have run ahead of scientific understanding in giving forestry such prominence in the Kyoto Protocol.
They argue tree planting has been seized on not because it is good science, but because it is politically expedient.





Town lab battles ticking time bomb
By Michael Dinan, Greenwich TIME, Sunday, May 9, 2004
Doug Serafin was sitting at his desk in the Greenwich Department of Health's laboratory on a recent morning when a woman burst through the door, clutching a sealed plastic bag with a white paper towel curled inside.

"Here," said Henrietta Kassaris, 69, of Glenville, as she passed the bag to Serafin. "I found it on my belly." Serafin, 49, the lab's director for four years, squinted at a black dot on the corner of the towel.

"It's definitely a female deer tick," he said, removing the 4-millimeter insect with tweezers and transferring it to a smaller bag. "It's the one that carries Lyme disease. But this tick doesn't look engorged. If they stay on three or four days to feed, they swell up with blood. The longer they
are on, the more likely they are to pass on the bacteria that causes Lyme disease."

Kassaris nodded. "I was out yesterday working in the garden," she said. Before she left, Kassaris agreed to have the lab test her tick for Borrelia burgdorferi, the bacteria that, when transmitted through the bite of infected ticks, causes Lyme disease.
 
A disease endemic to southwestern Connecticut, Lyme symptoms may include blurry vision, loss of reflexes, dementia, forgetfulness, depression and almost 100 other symptoms.  A 2002 Connecticut Department of Public Health study found 4,631 Lyme disease cases in the state. Twenty-eight
percent of those cases came from Fairfield County. Lyme disease activists say the actual number of Lyme cases could be 10 times greater because the blood tests used to diagnose the disease are not totally accurate.

The lab, in the basement of Town Hall, is the only town-operated public health lab in the state that does the test. Serafin, bacteriologist Yvette Ghannam and chemist Ken Roper have already tested 118 ticks this spring, and forwarded another 66 to the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station in New Haven.  The town's lab charges $41 to residents and $50 to nonresidents to perform the test. For a $7 handling fee, people can send ticks to the state lab, which tests for free. The state returns results in about a month, Serafin said, while the town lab's results are ready within a week.  Both labs do the same test and are equally accurate, Serafin said.

About 40 percent of the ticks brought to the lab test positive for the bacteria that causes Lyme disease, and the first week of May marks an important time for awareness, Serafin said.  "The ticks around now are last year's adults that didn't find a blood meal last fall," he said, as he dropped Kassaris' tick onto a counter. "Eggs laid last August hatched into larvae, and now they're coming to the next stage, when they're called nymphs."

Ticks feed only three times in their two-year lives: as larvae, as nymphs, and then as adults. At 1 millimeter long, nymphs are difficult to find, which makes them particularly dangerous, Serafin said.  Most ticks the lab receives are adults, and Serafin and his co-workers follow a careful procedure to test them for Borrelia burgdorferi.

After a tick is identified as the type that carries the Lyme disease bacteria, it is dropped into a tube, mashed up, heated, and put into a centrifuge, Serafin said. A gift of Time For Lyme Inc. -- a Greenwich-based Lyme disease agency that raises money for advocacy, research and education --
the centrifuge is a device that extracts DNA from blood by spinning rapidly.

"It separates solids from liquids and also extracts hemoglobin," Serafin said. The hemoglobin can interfere with the process by producing a false negative, he said.  The lab's weekly tests begin on Thursday, when a tray full of ticks' blood is carried in labeled tubes to an environmentally protected area called a biological safety cabinet, to set up the specimens for a polymerase chain reaction, or PCR.

"PCR basically amplifies the DNA of the Lyme disease bacteria to a detectable level," Serafin said.  "It allows us to see the DNA we want to test for."  That happens through a process that starts with denaturation, where the ticks' blood is heated up so that strands of DNA undo themselves.
After specific "primer" DNA strands pinpoint the target DNA -- in this case, the bacteria that causes Lyme disease -- duplicate strands of target DNA are synthesized. The process is repeated hundreds of times from Thursday afternoon through Friday morning, when the bacteria's DNA has been copied and reproduced so many times that it can be detected by a process called "gel electrophoresis."

All DNA is electrically charged and has a specific size and shape. In gel electrophoresis, these two properties are used to separate DNAs in a gel pad with an electrical field. Using a pipette to remove a drop of blood from each tube, Serafin places each DNA sample on a gel pad and leaves it for an hour, as electric current streams through it.

"The electric current pushes the DNA we want to test for through the gel," Serafin said. "After an hour, we take the gel pad and place it under an ultraviolet transilluminator," a light box that reads dye-stained DNA.

"The gel contains a DNA stain that glows orange when it's under the ultraviolet light," Serafin said, "so all the DNA molecules will absorb it, and it makes a pattern. It's actually very beautiful."  It's even more beautiful if Serafin tells clients that their results are negative when they call him on
Friday afternoons.

Kassaris was delighted with the news.  "I felt fantastic," she said.

For more information about tick-testing or prevention, look for brochures outside the health department's offices on the third floor of Town Hall. If you find a tick, call the laboratory at 622-7843/7846, or just come by with your tick, dead or alive. The lab is in the ground level of Town Hall.