Norwalk’s Rowayton Is Ranked #6 “Happiest Seaside Town” in America

What better time than in the midst of a three-snowstorm-week to learn of the top 10 “happiest seaside towns in America,” and discover  that Rowayton, Connecticut placed at #6 in the list compiled by Coastal Living magazine.  Rowayton – a section of Norwalk – was sandwiched between higher profile communities of Newport and Kennebunkport among the leading happy seaside towns, in the 2013 list.

“This picturesque, sophisticated New England coastal village at the mouth of Connecticut's Five Mile River is straight out of a Norman Rockwell illustration,” the magazine reported.  “No wonder Rosignpicwayton, with its clapboard and shingle homes perched along its rocky shorelines, has lured artists for centuries.  In fact, many New Englanders don't even know this gem, making it all the more dear for those 4,000 or so who call it home.”

The write-up about Rowayton concludes “But art—and beauty—does come at a price. It's one of the most expensive spots in the state (as well as the nation). And yet this village has a low-key sensibility, with pizza joints, ice-cream parlors, and a volunteer fire department.”

Rowayton is in good company, among higher profile locales earning a place amongst the top 10:

  1. Beaufort, South Carolina
  2. HarwichPort, Massachusetts
  3. Sanibel Island, Florida
  4. Sag Harbor, New York
  5. Newport, Rhode Island
  6. Rowayton, Connecticut
  7. Kennebunkport, Maine
  8. Pa’ai, Maui, Hawaiihappy-towns-rowayton-0613-l
  9. LaJolla, California
  10. Pescadero, California

The Rowayton section of Norwalk is located on Long Island Sound, just 45 miles from New York City. Formerly independent, today Rowayton is the Sixth Taxing District of the City of Norwalk. Norwalk is unique among the municipalities of Connecticut in its manner of governance - and the manner in which the various public utilities, cultural assets and tax structures of a half-dozen distinct communities were joined together to form the City of Norwalk in the 1920's, according to the Rowayton Library website.

Picturesque Rowayton lies at the mouth of the Five Mile River, adjacent to Darien.. With a population of under 4,000 in approximately 1,500 households, Rowayton has kept it's village-like character, including its volunteer fire department - the only remaining volunteer department in Norwalk.

With 10 issues published each year, Coastal Living introduces readers to homes, destinations, activities, and people along the Atlantic, Pacific, and Gulf shores of North America. Hawaii, Alaska, coastal Canada and Mexico, as well as the multi-national Caribbean islands and U.S. Great Lakes, are included in the magazine’s scope.  Coastal is described as “the No. 1 online authority for those captivated by the coast ―and your quintessential resource for celebrating its unique charm, customs, and way of living.”

Big Trash Pick-Up: Volunteers to Clean Connecticut's Shoreline

A year ago, 2,450 volunteers in Connecticut removed 16,310 pounds of trash from Long Island Sound’s shoreline and Connecticut waterways. This weekend, the effort continues, as bird watchers, fishermen, sailors, scuba divers, students, citizen groups and businesses will be cleaning up trash from Connecticut’s beaches, islands, and rivers as part of the International Coastal Cleanup (ICC).

Save the Sound, the Connecticut coordinator for the ICC for the past 11 years, has worked with cleanup captains to organize public clean-ups at 25 locations across the state this weekend. (See partial list below.)  The cleanups will continue throughout September and October.  Interested volunteepeoplecleanrs should check the calendar for listings of clean-ups and to register.

ICC, created by the Ocean Conservancy, is now in its 28th year and has participation in all 55 U.S. states and territories and 100 countries around the world. It is a unique event in that volunteers tally up all garbage they pick up on data cards, which are sent to Ocean Conservancy for analysis. They use the information to track trends in marine debris and help stop it at its source. Last year, more than 550,000 people picked up more than 10 million pounds of trash along nearly 20,000 miles of coastline worldwide.

Bank of America is Lead Sponsor of Save the Sound’s ICC Cleanups in Connecticut, and employees from the company are leading and participating in a cleanup at Jennings Beach in Fairfield on Saturday, as well as co-leading a cleanup with the New Haven Rotary club at Lighthouse Point Park.

Working in both New York and Connecticut, Save the Sound has established a 40-year track record of restoring and protecting the waters and shorelines of the Sound.  A program of Connecticut Fund for the Environment, Save the Sound recently received a $50,000 grant from the Fairfield County Community Foundation to support its green infrastructure work in partnership with the City of Bridgeport and the Bridgeport Water Pollution Control Authority. The grant will further Save the Sound's efforts to work with towns to implement innovative installations that act like sponges to absorb and filter stormwater runoff, thereby reducing flooding and improving the water quality of Long Island Sound.

For a complete list of the over 43 ICC cleanups happening in Connecticut throughout September and October, please visit A Facebook page has additional information.

Saturday, September 21

NEW HAVEN, 9:00 AM – 12:00 PM

Bank of America, New Haven Rotary Club, and Save the Sound executive director Curt Johnson at Lighthouse Point Park.

FAIRFIELD,  9:00 AM – 12:00 PM

Bank of America cleanup at Jennings Beach.

NEW LONDON,10:00 AM – 11:30 AM

Local citizen cleanups at Ocean Beach and Alewife Cove Tidal Creek.

 Sunday, September 22

WESTPORT, 11:00 AM – 12:00 PM, 11:00 AM – 2:00 PM

 Friends of Sherwood Island State Park and National Charity League of Ridgefield will hold cleanups at Sherwood Island.

MILFORD, 4:00 PM – 5:30 PM

The Boy Scouts will hold two cleanups at Audubon Coastal Center and Gulf Beach.

Maritime Industry Brings $7 Billion Impact, 40,000 Jobs to Connecticut

The value of Connecticut’s maritime economy is nearly $7 billion, according to a new report researched and developed by the University of Connecticut at Avery Point.  The industry contributes nearly 40,000 jobs to the state, according to “Valuing the Coast: Economic Impacts of Connecticut’s Maritime Industry issued in conjunction with Sea Grant, a national network comprised of 32 Sea Grant programs based at flagship universities in coastal and Great Lake states and Puerto Rico.

Seven sectors classified by the U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC) as directly related to the state’s maritime inmaritime industrydustry were studied for the report: commercial fishing; seafood product preparation and packaging; ship building and repairing; boat building; transport by water; scenic and sightseeing transportation and support activities for transportation; and amusement and recreational activities.

Lead author was Robert S. Pomeroy, professor in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics in UConn's College of Agriculture and Natural Resources and a Sea Grant college fisheries extension specialist.  Pomeroy says the goal of the study was to document the significance of the maritime industry to Connecticut’s economy.

Pomeroy noted that the total impact of the state’s maritime economy is thought to be even higher because this study only looked at seven sectors of the economy. One important area not included is Connecticut’s growing aquaculture industry, which involves farming fish, mollusks, crustaceans, and aquatic plants. The DOC classifies aquaculture as being part of the state’s agricultural industry, so those numbers are not reflected in the findings.

Notably, the research showed that New London County alone accounts for a little less than 50 percent of the total state output impacts. The region consists of 36 towns, including several of the largest cities of the state.  Recreaticoastal countiesonal activities are the most important sector for Middlesex County, one of four coastal counties most involved in the maritime industry.

The total economic output impact, measuring the value of the goods or services produced in each of the sectors studied, resulted in a finding of $6.83 billion at the state level, and $5.88 billion for the four coastal counties most involved in the maritime industry. These include the counties of Fairfield, New Haven, Middlesex, and New London.

Pomeroy and his colleagues used an economic model developed by Nobel Prize-winning economist Wassily Leontif that makes it possible to quantify the interdependencies between different branches of the economy. Leontif’s model shows how the output of one industry serves as an input to each of the other industries in the study. The data used was from 2010.

For Connecticut, ship building for commercial and military purposes is the sector contributing the most to the economy among the seven sectors measured. However, for counties other than New London, the most important sector is transport by water for Fairfield; scenic and sightseeing transport and support activities for transportation in New Haven; and other amusement and recreation industries for Middlesex.

The study also showed that maritime outputConnecticut’s maritime industry is an important contributor to employment, with nearly 40,000 people being employed in the industry, of which 32,000 come from the four southernmost counties in the state. Among the seven sectors studied, ship building, which employs approximately 17,600 people, contributes the most jobs to the state’s economy.

The Sea Grant program is focused on making the United States the world leader in marine research and the sustainable development of marine resources.  Joining Pomeroy in authoring the report were Umi Muawanah, a Sea Grant Knauss Fellow, and Nataliya Plesha, a Ph.D. candidate in UConn’s Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics.

For purposes of comparison, a previous study commissioned by the Connecticut Maritime Coalition using 2007 data, reported that Connecticut’s maritime dependent industries were estimated to account for over $5 billion in business output, generating approximately 30,000 jobs. While the two studies used different methodologies, the results are comparable and show the critical economic importance of an evolving maritime industry to the state’s coffers and to providing a stabilizing economic force for Connecticut citizens in otherwise uncertain times.