Month: October 2013

Speaker — November 20, 2013
Edward Hynes

Ed is a native of nearby Wilton who has an avid interest in local history and has developed a lecture, and in-depth tour of the scenes of battle of the 1777 Danbury Raid. Ed first became interested in the Danbury Raid as a child when he learned his neighbor’s house was partially burned by the British during the raid. He and his wife are fascinated by history and have visited many battlefields both here and abroad.

It was the spring of 1777, and the Royal Governor of the Province of New York, Major General William Tryon, was not a happy man. In 1775-76, the British had been mauled, and forced to flee Boston. Their commander, General Thomas Gage, had been sent home in disgrace. In the summer and fall of 1776, British forces under Admiral Sir Richard Howe and General William Howe defeated General George Washington in the Battle of Brooklyn but  had somehow failed to “close the deal,” allowing Washington to escape and humiliate the Hessians in Trenton. This “rabble uprising” was clearly getting out of hand.

Tryon, who had previously put down significant colonial unrest as governor of North Carolina, found his New York supply line to be in peril. Fodder was not to be found, and Hessian reinforcements had arrived poorly armed and without tents. Housing was scarce in New York City as a result of the mysterious great fire that followed the Battle of Brooklyn. But Tryon was a man of action. The rebels had supplies and lots of tents in Danbury, Connecticut, a colony with known loyalist sympathy. He would lead a raid and seize what he needed, but he was determined not repeat the mistakes of The Lexington/Concord Raid. He demanded detailed military planning, 1,500 experienced troops, diversionary actions against Peekskill, and, most important, to be guided by the 300 man Royal and Honorary Prince of Wales Loyal American Volunteers, which had been largely raised in Fairfield County. His force would be led by locals, who knew the roads and the political sympathies of their neighbors.

On April 25, 1777, Tryon’s forces landed between Fairfield and Norwalk (in what is now Westport) at Compo Beach, and marched to Danbury where they chased off a small garrison of Continental Army troops. But Tryon found that “inland citizens” were not quite as loyal to the Crown as he had assumed (he had made this same mistake in North Carolina). And, by chance, Brigadier General Benedict Arnold of the Continental Army, was nearby, in route to complain to Congress about his perceived poor treatment. On hearing of the British landing, Arnold gathered volunteers and “rode to the guns.” Major General David Wooster, commander of the Militia in the area, was also in New Haven, and he joined with Brigadier General Gold Selleck Silliman’s local militia, and, with a combined force of roughly 700 men, the Patriots responded vigorously. In the face of this action Tryon abandoned his plan to seize the supplies, and instead burnt them before marching to Ridgefield.

A company led by Wooster attacked Tryon’s rear guard twice as he moved toward Ridgefield on April 27. In the second encounter, Wooster was mortally wounded and died five days later. The main encounter then took place at Ridgefield, where several hundred militia, under Arnold’s command, confronted the British. They were driven back in a running battle down the town’s main street, but not before inflicting casualties on the British and delaying their progress.

Additional militia forces arrived, and the next day they continued to harass the British on their return to Compo. Arnold’s troops regrouped to make a stand on Old Hill in today’s Westport, but they were outsmarted by the Loyal American Volunteers who helped the British flank their position. The British made a mad dash for their ships as Arnold’s troops pursued them before being scattered by British artillery fire and bayonet charge on Compo Hill.

The British had walked in, but had to fight their way out to Compo Beach where they had left their ships. They had burned rebel supplies and outwitted the Rebels by escaping destruction, but because of this action, American forces gained international esteem. Benedict Arnold, while tactically out-maneuvered, would receive his promotion to Major General and go on to the important victory at Saratoga. Without the “Danbury Raid” that critical battle might have ended quite differently.

The expedition was a tactical success for the British forces, but their actions galvanized Patriot support in Connecticut. While the British again made raids on Connecticut’s coastal communities, including a second raiding expedition by Tryon in 1779, and a 1781 raid led by Arnold after his defection to the British side, they made no more raids that penetrated into the countryside.

Speaker — November 13, 2013
George Bodenheimer, ESPN Executive

George Bodenheimer, Executive Chairman of ESPN, is a veteran of over 30 years with the company. George cites mission, culture, and brand as the firm’s drivers for success.

ESPN started in late 1978 in Bristol, Connecticut. Initially the plan was to utilize the satellite network to cover Connecticut, but it quickly expanded to nationwide coverage. Getty Oil provided seed money in 1979.

The ESPN mission is “to serve sports fans” in an entertaining fashion and to get “it” right. Realizing fans’ unfamiliarity with Australian football, the company offered to send them copies of the rules. Over 45,000 requests were received, giving ESPN an early inkling of its audience potential. Company culture emerged as an underdog, hardworking, constructive vision, a “born in a muddy lot” view. The culture also featured “family first”, with promotion from within, mentor roles, assistance for families with problems, and accommodation for family activity schedules. Opportunity was also emphasized, with George citing his starting at the very bottom, and having the chance to get on the right career track, moving from production to sales and marketing.

Today, this culture involves 7000 employees. The firm’s staff takes sports seriously but not themselves, recognizing that fans like to laugh. As an additional example, there are those funny Sports Center ads.

 

Hyde Park, NY Excursion Photos, October 17, 2013

Thanks to Katie Lawrence for these Photos! 

Hiking

Benefits of being out in Nature

Aristotle believed that the outdoors clarified the mind. Darwin and Einstein claimed that a walk in the woods helped them think. John Muir felt that we should fight the tendency to become “ tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people of the city”, and Walt Whitman warned of the city’s “pestiferous little gratifications in the absence of nature.” And now neuroscientests are showing that nature makes us happier, healthier and more creative.

It is the mission of the hiking group to help you derive not only these benefits but to also have fun doing so and developing lasting friendships with your fellow DMA members.

We schedule at least one hike a month, on Fridays at 10.00 am – weather permitting.  Hikes are usually between 3-5 miles, last 2-3 hours and are followed by lunch at a nearby restaurant. The lunch has become as important an activity as the hike itself.   Spouses and significant others are welcome and some have become regulars.

We select trails which are no more than 30-35 minutes driving distance from Darien and they vary in difficulty from an easy walk in the park to more challenging trails that will get your heart pumping. The following rating system is used to describe the level of difficulty of a trail – I’ll try to rate the area and the specific trail for each hike.  Example: I’d rate the Red Trail in Trout Brook Valley an “A-” but the White Trail a C+.

Trail RatingDescriptionSuitabilityTrail Examples
CEasy, flat, smooth terrainAnyone who can walk at least 3 milesGreenwich point Beach
C+Slightly more difficult, relatively flat terrain with some gentle slopes.Requires sure footedness and a sense of balance to navigate rocks and roots on trailPomerance Park, Greenwich
Saxon Woods, Mamaroneck
BMore hilly terrain, but not steepRequires more stamina and sturdy shoesMianus River Park,
Bancroft Preserve, Leon levy Preserve
B+Significant hills and valleysRequires experience and staminaMianus River Gorge, Zofnass Preserve, Devil’s Den
A-Most difficult, steep inclinesHiking boots and lots of stamina. Reserved for most experienced hikersTopstone Park, Redding (pictured above)
AWe don’t attempt this level of difficulty

Hikes are announced two weeks in advance at the DMA meeting, posted on our website, and an email reminder sent the week of the hike.

See you on the trail!

Sunil Saksena
203-561-8601
ssaksena44@gmail.com

Hike the Mianus River Gorge
October 25, 2013

Mianus River GorgeWe will have our first hike Friday, October 25, at the Mianus River Gorge. The Gorge is a 750-acre preserve of old-growth forest that was established sixty years ago as the first land project of The Nature Conservancy.

The trails roughly parallel the river at a higher elevation. Among the interesting features is an abandoned quarry where mica, quartz, and feldspar were mined in the 19th century. For more details see www.mianus.org/visit-the-gorge/planning-your-visit/.

The Mianus River Gorge is located nearby in Bedford, NY, not far from the Stamford border. To reach it:

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  • Take Exit 34 from the Merritt Parkway.
  • Drive North on Route 104 (Long Ridge Road) towards Bedford for 7.5 miles.
  • Turn left onto Miller’s Mill Road. If you hit Route 172 and the Mobil gas station, you’ve gone too far.
  • Left on Mianus River Road after crossing the bridge.
  • Drive about ½ mile on dirt road. Entrance to the parking lot is on the left – just across the street from 167 Mianus River Road.

Be cautious! It is easy to miss Miller’s Mill Road. Check your odometer when you exit the Merritt so you will know when you have traveled 7.5 miles. A helpful landmark on the right is Twin Lakes Drive, which comes just before Miller’s Mill Road.

The hike is about 4½ miles, and will take us 2½ – 3 hours to walk it.

We will meet at the Gorge parking lot at 9:50 and begin the hike at 10:00. Afterwards there will be an optional lunch at the Lakeside Diner in Stamford.

For more information contact Scott Hutchason at 203-322-5025 or shutchason@sbcglobal.net.


View Larger Map

DMA approves age-limit change

The attendees at the weekly DMA meeting on October 16, 2013 ratified, without dissent, the change in required age for membership, previously approved by the DMA Board of Directors, and announced at the weekly DMA meeting of October 9, 2013.

The required age for membership is now 50, down from 55 years of age.

Speaker — November 6, 2013
on “The New Darien”
Penny Glassmeyer of PG Properties Ltd and
David Genovese of Baywater Properties

David Genovese of Baywater Properties and Penny Glassmeyer of PG Properties Ltd. Partnership will talk about the commercial real estate projects that have created the “New Darien”.

GlassmeyerPenny Glassmeyer established herself as a builder well before PG Properties first became an entity in 1987. Penny supervised her very first project in 1979, the renovation of a five family converted Victorian house which she still owns. Three of the current tenants have made 22 Berkeley Street in Norwalk their permanent home for 25, 18 and 11 years.

Her success at Berkeley Street led Penny to her next project In 1982. With government financing, Penny purchased and restored an eight-family low income house. She followed this with the acquisition of two neighboring properties over the next five years – a four family and a five family structure. Penny renovated each building, one at a time. When the last renovation was completed she purchased the house across the street which, because it did not have “classic bones”, she tore down and replaced with a six-unit condominium building.

The quality of her finished projects and the extensive attention to detail that she exhibited in her work projected Penny Glassmeyer into the high-end residential market. Penny formed PG Properties in 1987 and she built her first single-family home, a five bedroom with an elevator. Each year after that, Penny proceeded to purchase a tear-down property and then would build a new home which reflected the look and style of the original structure but with all the modern conveniences. She has built thirteen homes in Darien and one in New Canaan.

The year 2000 signaled change and Penny transitioned smoothly into commercial work for the first time. It was a natural move for her because it meant, among other things, that she would be able to give something back to the community that she was so intimately a part of. She began by restoring several downtown Darien retail/office buildings and then in 2003 Penny developed the much lauded Grove Street Plaza which is home to 10 luxury apartments, two retail stores, a restaurant and a public plaza with a fountain which operates year round. This project was a catalyst in spurring more much needed development in downtown Darien. In June 2010 Penny was recognized and celebrated by her community when she was selected as one of five women to receive the “Woman of Distinction Award”, an honor established by the Darien/Norwalk CT YWCA for women who have made significant contributions to the Darien and Norwalk communities.

Penny has a Business/Math B.S. degree from the University of California at Berkeley and has lived in Darien since 1968. She has also built eight single family homes in Sun Valley, Idaho where in 1997 she was presented with the city’s Beautification Award.

GenoveseR. David Genovese founded Baywater Properties in 2001, following a 12-year career in real estate investment banking in New York and London. Prior to founding Baywater, David served as Deputy Head of Real Estate Investment Banking for Credit Suisse First Boston. Previously, David served as a Managing Director in Bankers Trust Company’s Real Estate Investment Banking Group. Through the course of his career in investment banking, David was responsible for a variety of transactions valued in excess of $15.0 billion, including mergers and acquisitions, equity offerings, bond offerings, securitized financings, bank loans, and principal investments. David is an honors graduate of Colby College and The London School of Economics and Political Science. David also received an MBA from The Wharton School of The University of Pennsylvania. David is currently a member of the Human Services Council of Norwalk, and a Senior Advisor to the Maritime Aquarium of Norwalk. David has served as a member of the Board of Overseers of Colby College, and as a board member of the Darien Technology Foundation, the Darien YMCA, Wee Burn Country Club, the Darien Historical Society, Darien Revitalization, Inc. and the Real Estate Finance Association of Connecticut. In 2007, David was named as one of the “40 under 40” business leaders in Fairfield County, Connecticut. A 1985 graduate of Darien High School, David lives in Darien with his wife, Julie, and their four children.

Arranged by Alex Garnett

Speaker — October 30, 2013
Stuart Gibson

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Stuart Gibson, who previously spoke to the DMA about his work for UNESCO salvaging cultural treasures in war-torn Iraq and restoring destroyed museums will give us an update. In addition, he will include commentary on the current political situation.

Stuart will be speaking about the magnificent archaeological sites of Karakalpakstan region of Uzbekistan – sites dating from 3rd century BC to 4th century AD – and the ecological issues pertaining to their restoration.

Uzbekistan is home to the famous Silk Road cities of Khiva, Samarkand, and Bukhara.  He will also discuss the Aral Sea which is also located in Karakalpakstan. The Aral Sea was one of the largest inland salt water lakes in the world until the 1980s when the Soviets diverted the water from the two rivers feeding the sea to the surrounding areas to irrigate the cotton fields. Today the Aral Sea is 10 percent of its original size and in ecological crisis.

In addition, he will include commentary on the current political situation.

Arranged by Martin Skala

Speaker — October 23, 2013
Ken Coe, Nature Conservancy in Africa volunteer

Ken Coe of Darien volunteers extensively with the Nature Conservancy in Africa. He will speak on the topic of the ivory trade and its implications to native peoples, as well as to the wild animals.