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Ask Dr. Rich
Rich Simons | Upper East 11th Street

Q – Just a few months back you were carrying on about some utopia back east which closely resembled Del Mar but with the exception that they had for years supported a grocery store and a hardware store. You attributed it to “customer loyalty.” Does this place really exist, or is it some Shangri-La that you invented?

No, and it isn’t Brigadoon either. And as Shirley MacLaine says in the title of her book: “You Can Get There From Here.” In fact, if you work your way about 40 miles north of Manhattan to the juncture of Five Mile River with Long Island Sound, you will find yourself smack in the middle of Rowayton, Connecticut. It is actually a village within the larger municipality of Norwalk. You will find it written up (favorably) in Wikipedia and the 4 July 1993 and 14 January 2014 issues of The New York Times.

Space considerations last time prevented me from telling you a few other things about Rowayton. For instance, as far as I can tell all residential streets in the town are what we would call “dead end.” (Of course they talk kinda funny back there, so they call them something called a “cool day sack.”) But by any name there are great advantages. For instance, you can have a block party anytime you want and no one is going to complain. And if your kid gets hit while playing in the street, it will probably be at low velocity and the driver will be a good neighbor that you really, really like. Del Mar might want to consider adopting this model. Of course we will need to maintain a few through streets, but they could be zoned for businesses, like maybe a grocery store or a hardware store.

And there’s another thing. In my frequent trips to Rowayton to visit my niece, I have noticed that the lawns and gardens are always . . . well, LUSH . . . at least when not covered by snow. It turns out that they have this system whereby not a week goes by without water being delivered to all the yards in town. It comes out of the sky, they say. And it’s free! (They have a name for it, but I can’t recall what it is.) This is a model we might want to consider adopting, if not county-wide, then locally.

It won’t surprise you to know that the trees in Rowayton grow tall and lush. But be that as it may, no one has to risk life and limb clambering skyward to trim them. The deal is, at least twice a year, usually in winter, a storm sweeps through with powerful winds that take care of any limbs that need to come down. That just leaves a little cleanup job.

And another thing – Rowayton has a dock, where the boating people can tie up and go into town to dine at any one of a number of fine restaurants . . . and, oh, maybe load up on groceries. Frankly, I think it’s absurd for a city to be located next to a body of water and NOT have a dock, or a wharf or a pier or something. Face it, wouldn’t you like to be able to stroll down to our lagoon and hop into your dory to go rowing somewhere? Hop a ferry to Catalina? Sure you would.
Rowayton has a excellent library, a Farmer’s Market, and lots of parks and beaches. But alas – no bookstore. Sigh! Well, I guess no place is perfect.


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