Looking Back: Hornet larvae, four new plants

Vote Sinks Pool.

That was the top headline in the March 25, 1993, Ridgefield Press. The Zoning Board of Appeals voted 4-to-1 to deny a variance that would have allowed for-profit use of the former Y building.

“‘You just closed an organization,” said one resident after the vote.

“You just killed a swim team,” screamed another.

The pool, which had been been run by the association for almost two years under a lease agreement with mortgage holder The Village Bank, was scheduled to close March 27.

Beneath the fold in that week’s paper, Ridgefield’s Discovery Center took pride in being a non-profit organization without a brick-and-mortar rooftop.

“We were associated with a building before, that was back in 1985,” said Steve Bachler, vice president of the center’s board.

Bachler was featured in a front page image looking at hornet larvae in one of the center’s “Discovery Dads” programs for fathers and their kids.

“‘What we call ourselves is a non-profit organization devoted to encouraging families to get together to learn nature, and culture, and science and the arts,’” he said.

“[Our] charter isn’t limiting,” he added, “in the sense that we can pretty much do, within reason, anything we want to do.”

50 years ago

In this column last week, we recalled that Ridgefield was Connecticut’s No. 1 town in population growth from 1960 to 1967. That wasn’t the only thing booming in town.

Industrial growth planned in town was estimated at $2,450,000 that year, with four new companies starting plants in town and two others expanding existing complexes.

The four companies, according to the Connecticut Development Commission’s report, were Electric Regulator, Weston Woods Studios, the Arma Tool and Die Manufacturing Co., and Cam Development and Micro Component Co.

The report stated that Digitech Inc. on Grove Street was planning a 22,000-square-foot expansion of its facility.  

Industrial companies weren’t the only newcomers in town that week.

“French Catholic Sisters Buy Polsen Home on Barry Avenue,” read a front page headline beneath the fold.

The Press reported that a 300-year-old order of French Catholic nuns had purchased the seven-acre property and former home of Robert Polsen.

“The Sisters of St. Thomas of Villanova, who operate the Notre Dame Convalescent Home in Norwalk, bought the property on Friday, March 15,” the newspaper said. “They plan to use the 11-room building for a retreat house for members of the congregation. The purchase price was $60,000.”

Before Polsen, the property was home to Ernie Scott for 34 years.

Scott, who built many of the large mansions around Ridgefield and the Scott Block opposite town hall on Main Street, died in 1958.

He built the home himself in 1919.

“A beam in the cellar, near the potato bin, lists the date and names of all the carpenters who worked on the job,” The Press said.