Category Archives: Beach

Mill Pond Magic

Betsy Phillips Kahn captured this magnificent view of the Sherwood Mill Pond just an hour ago.

One more reason why summer in Westport is special indeed.

(Photo/Betsy Phillips Kahn)

(Photo/Betsy Phillips Kahn)

 

Rick Eason Flies Under The Radar

Rick Eason graduated from Bedford Middle School in June. But the teenager knows aircraft technology, FAA regulations — and Westport skies — like a pro.

Rick has always been interested in electronics. Not long ago, the rising Staples freshman got a drone. His DJI Phantom FC40 Quadcopter is amazing. Equipped with a GoPro camera providing very high quality 2.6K resolution still photographs and video at 30 fps, plus 4 rotors, it tilts, spins and zooms its way over beaches, homes and fields.

Rick Eason and his drone.

Rick Eason and his drone.

Thanks to GPS it holds its position in wind, moves around a center point, and can even return to the exact spot it was launched if contact is lost.

“It’s so much fun to fly,” he says. “It’s so easy and intuitive to control.

“You can get views no one has ever seen before,” Rick adds with pride. “This is not like Google Earth. You can see your house from 20 feet above.”

Or the Westport Library. Here’s a view from Rick’s website that I’m pretty sure is the 1st of its kind:

Library - Rick Eason's drone

Rick’s dad, Tony Eason, installs solar panels. Rick’s drone helps him inspect roofs.

Drones are still pretty new. Rick saw another Phantom at Winslow Park. “06880″ has posted amazing videos, taken by another owner, of Compo Beach and Sherwood Mill Pond. But right now they’re rare, and Rick gets plenty of admiring stares — and questions — when he launches his.

Drones are so new, in fact, that federal regulations can’t keep up. Though drones can rise 2000 feet high, the FAA classifies them as “remote controlled aircraft,” with a limit of 400 feet.

Technically, they can’t fly beyond the owner’s “line of sight.” But, Rick says, he can watch and control his drone through the GoPro camera, using goggles or a laptop.

Rick Eason's drone hovers over his front lawn.

Rick Eason’s drone hovers over his front lawn.

Owners need a license to make money off drones. So legally, Rick can’t charge for his photographs and videos. (That hasn’t stopped others from doing so.)

Rick has learned about privacy laws too. “When you’re 30 feet up with a fisheye lens, you might catch someone’s private home,” he says. “If they ask me, I’ll delete it.” But, he notes, “it’s really no different from taking a photograph of someone’s house from the beach with an iPhone.”

Drones are here to stay. Just a couple of years ago, they cost thousands of dollars each — and did not fly particularly well. Now, Rick says, “you can buy one for $300 at Barnes & Noble.”

Rick's drone, inspecting a roof.

Rick’s drone, inspecting a roof.

Rick loves his drone — but he’s already looking ahead. He’s saving up for a gyroscopic gimbal, to keep the camera even steadier than it is now.

Meanwhile, he’s thinking up clever new uses for his drone. At Staples, he might contribute aerial photograph to Inklings, the school newspaper.

And last Thursday Rick was at Compo, for the 2nd annual “06880″ party. While the rest of us were eating, drinking and chatting, he was hard at work.

So here’s the “06880″ community — 2014-style:

 

06880 Throws A “Blog Party”

The weather was perfect. The food was great. The crowd of over 100 was diverse: old and young, artists and bankers, 4th-generation Westporters and a woman who moved here 2 months ago.

Strangers made new friends. Folks on both sides of the political aisle laughed. Everyone marveled at the sunset.

It was just another “06880″ day at the beach.

Rick Eason is a rising freshman at Staples. His drone flew over the "06880" party, and captured the happy crowd.

Rick Eason is a rising freshman at Staples. His drone flew over the “06880″ party, and captured part of the happy crowd.

Audrey Hertzel baked fantastic cupcakes -- and added this festive touch.

Audrey Hertzel baked fantastic cupcakes — and added this festive touch.

Enjoying the "0" in the "06880." (Photo/Audrey Hertzel)

Enjoying the “0″ in the “06880.” (Photo/Audrey Hertzel)

It was an "06880" party for the ages -- all ages -- at Compo Beach.

It was an “06880″ party for the ages — all ages — at Compo Beach.

Nick Iskandar of the great Kibberia restaurant donated fantastic Middle Eastern food.

Nick Iskandar of the great Kibberia restaurant donated fantastic Middle Eastern food.

Betsy Phillips Kahn captured this wonderful Westport sunset, as the "06880" party wound down.

Betsy Phillips Kahn captured this wonderful Westport sunset, as the “06880″ party wound down.

Recent Staples grad Lindsay Kiedaisch was there too. She captured the lighthouse off shore.

Recent Staples grad Lindsay Kiedaisch was there too. She captured the lighthouse off shore.

Rick Eason — a rising freshman at Staples — brought his drone to the party. The crowd got bigger later (when the light faded), but here’s a unique view of South Beach and the rest of Compo. Thanks, Rick!

(Special thanks to Mary Hoffman and Jennifer Hershey for helping organize the party; Audrey Hertzel for the cupcakes, and Kibberia restaurant for the food!)

 

Another Park. Another Plan?

For many years, Luciano Park was a thriving neighborhood playground.

For 2 years during college, in fact, my summer job was supervising the small Saugatuck spot, between the railroad station and parking lot. Another counselor and I kept an eye on kids, organized a few games, and set up bus trips to amusement parks and Yankee Stadium.

Luciano Park, looking from Railroad Place and Charles Street toward the parking lot. (Photo/JP Vellotti)

Luciano Park, looking from Railroad Place and Charles Street toward the parking lot. (Photo/JP Vellotti)

Later, when Parks and Rec stopped funding the positions — and the area changed — Luciano Park was known mainly as the site of the annual Festival Italiano.

These days, it’s largely forgotten. And almost completely unused.

Home plate remains, but the rest of the softball diamond is gone. View is toward Railroad Place. (Photo/JP Vellotti)

Home plate remains, but the rest of the softball diamond is gone. View is toward Railroad Place. (Photo/JP Vellotti)

The reasons are varied. Saugatuck is no longer a place of small homes and large families.

The few kids with free time in the summer don’t play baseball in parks. They don’t swing on swings.

No one does, anywhere in Westport — except for the very creative Compo playground, which has sand, water and food nearby.

The seldom-used playground equipment in Luciano Park. (Photo/JP Vellotti)

Seldom-used playground equipment in Luciano Park. (Photo/JP Vellotti)

I was reminded of all this after receiving an email and photos from alert “06880″ reader JP Vellotti. Walking through Luciano Park at 12:30 last Friday afternoon, without a soul in sight, he thought: “If there is a park in Westport that needs a master plan, this is it!”

He added:

As Westport thinks about its future, let’s give this park some thought. It need not only be for kids. Hundreds, maybe more, quite literally ‘park’ nearby every day.

Could this be a quiet place to sit before or after work? Why not add a fitness station as an alternative to the gym?

Good questions, all. And as Railroad Place prepares for the next stage of Saugatuck’s redevelopment, and residents throughout town ponder both Compo Beach and downtown improvements, why not add this tiny, valuable parcel into the planning mix?

(Photo/JP Vellotti)

(Photo/JP Vellotti)

Party On!

The good news: Tonight’s the night for the 2nd annual “06880″ party.

The better news: It won’t be 52,000,000,000,000 degrees, like it was last year.

Everyone’s invited. We’ll meet at 6 p.m. at Compo’s South Beach (the one with the grills and picnic tables), at the far end away from the cannons (near the kayak launch).

Bring your own picnic and drinks. We’ll supply the great weather, the name tags — and the chance to meet, mingle and make real-life “06880″ connections.

Tomorrow, it’s back to the pixels.

Fred Cantor captured last night's Compo Beach sunset. An equally spectacular evening is planned for tonight.

Fred Cantor captured last night’s Compo Beach sunset. An equally spectacular evening is planned for tonight.

 

“06880″ Party: Need A Ride? Share A Ride?

Several readers would love to come to Thursday night’s “06880″ party. But they don’t have beach stickers. (And, as much as they like a good time, they’ve decided it’s not worth the daily parking fee. Can’t say I blame ‘em.)

Uber would be a good alternative — except their cars probably don’t have stickers either.

Well, every problem has a solution.* Here’s ours:

  • If you need a ride, email me: dwoog@optonline.net. Tell me where you’re coming from (geographically, not metaphysically).
  • If you can offer a ride, email me: dwoog@optonline.net. Tell me your approximate pick-up range.

I’ll do my best to connect riders and drivers — privately, of course. No guarantees, but it’s just one more way in which “06880″ is “where Westport meets the world.”

*Except in the US Congress.

Another way to get to the "06880" party.

Another way to get to the “06880″ party.

 

Image

Who Goes To The Beach On A Cloudy, Cool Sunday?

Sunday at the beach

Alan Sterling’s “Gloria” (Updated)

Many Westporters were saddened to learn of the death of Alan Sterling — Westport’s hard-working native oysterman.

Bruce McFadden went to his photography collection.

“I spoke with him several times at the E.R. Strait Marina, where he kept his boat,” McFadden says.

“When Alan learned I was a former Staples chemistry teacher, he said some of the best years of his life were spent there. He spoke in glowing terms of the school.”

Bruce gave Alan a photo of his beloved “Gloria” — one of the last surviving commercial boats in Westport.

Alan built it himself. They sure don’t make ‘em like that — like Alan, or “Gloria” — anymore.

(Photo/Bruce McFadden)

(Photo/Bruce McFadden)

Meanwhile, here’s another photo, sent later today by JP Vellotti. It shows Gloria the day after Hurricane Sandy.

Soon enough, Alan had her shipshape, and back on the water.

(Photo/JP Vellotti)

(Photo/JP Vellotti)

Remembering Alan Sterling

You may not know the name Alan Sterling. But if you’ve ever driven toward Compo Beach in the winter, you know his boat.

Alan built it out of wood, himself. He named it “Gloria” — for an old girlfriend — and he took it oystering. He once leased 150 acres of oyster beds, between Compo Beach and Cockenoe Island, from the state. It was a tough job, but Alan — a Staples grad — loved it from the day he began, in 1964.

In recent years though, poachers took quite a bit of joy — and millions of oysters — from him.

Alan Sterling culls his oysters.

Alan Sterling culls his oysters.

In the winter, Alan moored “Gloria” — named for an old girlfriend — in Gray’s Creek, between Compo Beach Road and the Longshore exit.

Some winters, he lived on the boat. It was cold, but it was home.

This year, Alan spent a lot of time fixing up “Gloria.” He finished the repairs in early July, and was ready to go out for another season.

On July 4, Alan had a massive heart attack as he was leaving the VA Hospital in West Haven. He died right there.

I did not know Alan well. But I knew the boat, and I knew how passionate he was about oysters.

If only he could have gone out to his beloved beds, one more time.

 

Compo Beach — Or Compo “Park”?

If you’ve lived in Westport for more than, say, 6 hours, the reference is clear. “Compo” is “the beach.” “The beach” is “Compo.”

Apparently, AKRF and Lothrop Associates have not lived here for more than 6 hours.

They’re the consultants to the Compo Beach Site Improvement Committee. Yet even though “beach” is right there in the title, the consultants’ report frequently refers to the beach as a “park.”

With lifeguards, sand and plenty of water, Compo is a beach.

With lifeguards, sand and plenty of water, Compo is a beach.

The Executive Summary on Page 1 says: “The Compo Beach Master Plan … is intended to serve as a ‘blueprint’ for future improvements to the park.”

The “park” is referenced 3 more times in the Introduction 2 pages later, including this: “The Master Plan evolved from an extensive public outreach campaign … where the community expressed its concerns, ideas and desires for the park.”

No. We did not.

We expressed our concerns, ideas and desires for the beach. Compo is a beach.

As a beach, it has many wonderful attractions: a boardwalk, Joey’s, a playground, athletic fields, a marina, and 2 decorative cannons. Those are important parts of Compo, and we enjoy them all.

But Compo is not a park. It is a beach.

Just because 2 people got married at Compo Beach, we don't call it a chapel. (Photo by Betsy P. Kahn)

Just because 2 people got married at Compo Beach, we don’t call it a chapel. (Photo/Betsy P. Kahn)

Changing nomenclature is not insignificant. There is a reason one side in a long-running debate calls itself “pro-choice,” and the other “pro-life” – instead of  “anti-abortion.”

Recasting our planet’s health as “climate change” rather than “global warming” has reframed that issue. Deniers can no longer simply look at freezing temperatures and major snowstorms, and scoff.

Central is a park. Compo is a beach.

And no consultants’ report will convince me to say — as no one in the history of Westport ever has — “What a beautiful day! Let’s go to the park!”

Any way you frame it, Compo is a beach. It is not a park.

Any way you frame it, Compo is a beach — not a park.