Category Archives: Beach

Old Mill Art Show: A Resident’s Dissent

Yesterday, “06880” previewed Clark Hanford’s art show. Set for Old Mill Beach this weekend, it drew readers’ praise for its open-air creative funkiness.

But Westport is not Westport without controversy.

A beach-area resident writes:

The so-called “art show” has an impact on the neighborhood, legal and otherwise. It makes the already difficult parking situation horrible for residents, and anyone else wishing to use the beach.

This event is a commercial enterprise. As you can see in the sign, there will be an auction. Old Mill Road, Compo Cove and the beach are zoned residential areas. The parking lot isn’t Jesup Green or Parker Harding Plaza, serving commercial businesses.

A Parks & Rec study indicated there are not enough spaces for residents and fellow Westporters. There will never be enough spaces. Adding in the folks on Hillspoint and in the area who “dump” their cars there, and regular legal usage for enjoying the beach, it is problematic at best.

Is there a need to hold a for- profit event during the summer months? Wouldn’t a time before Memorial Day or after Labor Day be more appropriate (unless of course there is a financial incentive)?

Should someone be compelled to support this art show, park at Compo Beach and walk over. It’s a lovely walk (ask Dan Woog — he does it!).

There is limited parking at Old Mill Beach. An arrow (top right) shows the site of this weekend's art show. (Photo/Google Maps)

There is limited parking at Old Mill Beach. An arrow (top right) shows the site of this weekend’s art show. (Photo/Google Maps)

Down By The Old Mill Art Show

Two of Westport’s identities — arts town and beach town — meet this Saturday and Sunday (August 29-30). Clark Hanford presents his annual Old Mill Beach Art Show.

Westport is also a hedge fund town. Fortunately, you don’t need to be a billionaire to buy some great art at this show.

It’s a wonderful, funky event. There’s a neighborhood feel, but everyone is welcome.

Clark — a 1962 Staples High School graduate — is a very talented artist. (If you’ve ever wandered by his house — the yellow gingerbread-style home bordering the Old Mill path to Compo cove — you’ve probably admired some of his work, in and around his yard. You’ve also seen his old-time electric car, but that’s another “06880” post.)

Clark Hanford advertises his art show, in front of his gingerbread-style house.

Clark Hanford advertises his art show, in front of his gingerbread-style house.

This year, Clark’s added a few others to his show. There’s noted designer (and 1965 Staples grad) Miggs Burroughs; whimsical clockmaker Steve Lunt; Westporter Ade Van Duyn; Compo Cove artist Greg Puhy; Old Mill artist Isaac Sonsino, and Claudia Schattman, whose mosaics decorate (among other things) the old-time parking garage behind Old Mill. (Click here to see her very cool work.)

The works will be spread out on Clark’s lawn, and hung on his front and side gates and fence. Every piece is unique. It’s all for sale — including this great wooden doghouse advertisement Clark created just for the show:

Clark Hanford - Old Mill Art Show

(The Old Mill Beach Art show runs Saturday and Sunday, August 29 and 30, 10 a.m.-5  p.m. The address is 31 Old Mill. Of course, parking is very, very tight.) 

Saying Goodbye To Summer

Sure, there’s another weekend left in August — plus the “official” end of summer, Labor Day.

But a week from today, the kids will already be back to school. Our minds will focus on many different things.

The days grow shorter. The nights are cooling down.

But before the sun set today, Compo Beach was packed. The sky was blue, the clouds almost comically puffy.

What a great way to spend what’s left of Summer 2015.

Compo Beach - Sunday August 23 2015

 

Anyone For Pickleball?

Very quietly — without any fanfare or even publicity — Westport added 2 pickleball courts right next to the Compo Beach skate park.

They’re in a previously unused area of the parking lot. Yesterday, they got plenty of action.

Pickleball

Meanwhile, around the corner by the cannons, life was a little slower:

Comp Beach - August 16, 2015 - 2

Compo Beach - August 16, 2015

 

Aaron Donovan’s Aquatic Adventure

As media liaison for the MTA, Aaron Donovan is intimately familiar with New York’s trains, subways, buses, tunnels and bridges.

Its waterways — not so much.

Aaron Donovan

Aaron Donovan

But the 1994 Staples grad’s parents needed their garage space back. They no longer had room for the 18-foot hybrid vessel — part kayak, part pedal boat, part sailboat — that Aaron and his wife Susan bought from the Boat Locker, and had been storing there.

Aaron knew that New York City’s Parks Department has a small kayak storage area on West 79th Street. But he knew better than most that trailering the vessel on I-95 and into the city was no easy task.

So Aaron and Susan decided to sail. They spent the winter finding locations where they could stay during the 5-day, 4-night August adventure.

Aaron researched sunrises and sunsets, high and low tides, and ebb and flow currents. He could not, however, predict the wind.

After multiple stops at EMS, REI and Stop & Shop, the couple was ready. Launch date was Wednesday, August 6.

Susan Donovan in the 18-foot craft. Smaller than it sounds, no?

Susan Donovan in the 18-foot craft. Smaller than it sounds, no?

The house where Aaron grew up abuts the tidal estuary of Sasco Creek. He’d seen a few kayakers and canoeists on it, but it was certainly an underutilized resource.

Aaron and Susan planned to wait till shortly after high tide, when the current headed into the Sound. But — trips never go according to plan — they left a bit behind schedule, at 2:30 p.m. The current was against them, the water level low.

They walked the boat over sand, mud and gravel in waist-deep water. It was an inauspicious start.

Aaron and Susan Donovan leave Beachside, rounding Frost Point.

Aaron and Susan Donovan leave Beachside, rounding Frost Point.

They could not set up the mast until they’d cleared the bridge that carries Beachside Avenue into Pequot Avenue over Sasco Creek at Southport Beach. In tall sea grass they let out the sails, shoved off into waist-high waves of the incoming tide, unfurled the sails, and were off into a headwind.

Tacking a few times, they cleared Frost Point and Sherwood Point, en route to their 1st campsite in the Norwalk Islands. The winds shifted, the waves diminished and they arrived at 6 p.m. They beached the boat in tall sea grases, and hoped it would still be afloat — not way up a hill — at low tide.

For $35, Norwalk allows overnight camping on 2 of its dozen beautiful, sparsely or uninhabited island a couple of miles offshore. Aaron and Susan chose Shea Island — not Westport’s Cockenoe ($20) — because Shea offers rudimentary restrooms.

Aaron — whose words I am using throughout this report — calls the camping experience “amazing. So close to civilization, you can see the beautiful waterfront estates, shore lights and beaches, and hear occasional train horns and powerboat engines.

“But mostly you feel utterly surrounded by nature. As night falls, as the wind diminishes and the last rays of the sun taper off in pink and orange hues toward the west, you hear the calls of seagulls, and waves gently lapping on the rocky shorelines. It is like a hidden Eden, just 2 miles offshore.”

The view from Shea Island.

The view from Shea Island.

From their campsite atop a bluff, they had great views of the Sound. Long Island seemed close. Manhattan’s towers beckoned in the distance.

They were alone on the isle — though there are 16 campsites — except for a deer and 2 babies, who wandered over from Sheffield Island on a sandbar at low tide. Spooked, they (the deer) left.

After Susan made breakfast (eggs and beans), they loaded up their non-beached boat, and were off again.

(Next: Days 2-3)

Aaron and Susan Donovan's route, from Green's Farms to New York.

Aaron and Susan Donovan’s route, from Green’s Farms to New York.

(For an interactive view of the map above, click here.)

One Day Closer To The End Of Summer…

…but what a great day it was!

(Photo/Betsy P. Kahn)

(Photo/Betsy P. Kahn)

Dark Side Of The Moon?

No — just the south side of Cockenoe Island.

But alert “06880” reader JP Vellotti guesses this is a view most Westporters never see. So he sent it along:

Cockenoe south side - JP Vellotti

He took the shot yesterday from the oyster boat Grace Lowndes. Jimmy Bloom was at the helm.

Skate Park Utopia

Last fall, when the skate park was threatened during controversial plans for the Compo Beach renovation, dozens of sk8trs and their parents spoke eloquently for its survival. They described its importance for kids in passionate, athletic, community-building — even life-saving — terms.

It was spared the hook. This summer, I — and I’m sure many other Compo lovers — have looked at it with new, more appreciative eyes.

Recently, the skate park has sported a new look. Colorful, mural/graffiti-type painting has turned gray concrete into something much jazzier.

Skate park - Compo

But some Westporters wonder about the advertisement (top) for Utopia Skate Camp. It’s also visible from other angles. A bit out of place — and overly commercial — they say.

Time for an “06880” debate. What do you think about the new look of the Compo skate park? Have you had any personal experience with it? Who (or what) are these Utopia dudes? Click “Comments” — and please use your full, real name.

Just 2 Weeks Left Till The 1st Day Of School…

…so enjoy it while you can! (Click on or hover over each photo to enlarge.)

Mike Elliot's dog is not in Kansas anymore. But she's been in a production of "Wizard of Oz." Guess what role?

Mike Elliot’s dog is not in Kansas anymore.

All that's missing: food and guests.

All that’s missing: food and folks.

South Beach never gets old.

South Beach never gets old.

And it didn't even rain here!

And it didn’t even rain here!

Jennifer Fava: New Parks & Rec Director Will Dive Right In

Jennifer Fava’s father was director of parks facilities for Westchester County. Growing up, she wanted nothing to do with that.

But — go figure — she ended up graduating not only from the same school (University of Massachusetts), but also the same exact program (leisure studies and resources) as both parents.

Recreation is in Fava’s blood. From her youth in Armonk as a volleyball player, gymnast, runner, swimmer and diver (“my body is paying for it now, but it’s worth it”), through jobs as parks and rec director for Yorktown and North Hempstead, she’s spent her life being active, and helping others enjoy leisure pursuits.

Her get-it-done resume and let-me-help attitude should serve her well in her new job. On September 1, Fava becomes Westport’s new director of parks and recreation.

Jennifer Fava

Jennifer Fava

It seems like a great fit — for her, and the town. During her 9 years in Yorktown, Fava managed 29 parks and other facilities. She was responsible for 750 acres of open space, and developed 12 miles in nature preserves.

During 3 years at North Hempstead, she managed 385 employees and an operating budget 3 times larger than Westport’s. She oversaw the maintenance, operations and improvements of 53 park facilities, including golf courses, a marina, botanical garden, aquatic and athletic facilities, and a 60,000-square foot community center.

She increased revenues and program offerings, reorganized the department for greater efficiency and cost effectiveness, and implemented a more user-friendly website.

Fava did not do it all by sitting in her office.

“I’m not afraid to get on the roof and check the HVAC system,” she says. In Yorktown one night after a community movie, she grabbed a bag and picked up garbage. “People should know we’re all part of a team,” she explains.

“We don’t get rich in public service,” she adds. “We do this because we love it.”

Fava calls her new town “a great place to be. The natural resources and unbelievable facilities — who doesn’t like to sit at the beach?”

Her background managing golf courses, marinas and beaches (“across Long Island Sound,” she notes) are a plus. The demographics where she’s worked are similar to Westport too.

Longshore -- part of Jennifer Fava's new portfolio -- includes a golf course, tennis courts, marina, pools, and much, much more.

Longshore — part of Jennifer Fava’s new portfolio — includes a golf course, tennis courts, marina, pools, and much more.

Fava says that as she researched Westport — and saw the capital plan — she grew even more excited. She sees an opportunity to “build on this gem, and take it to the next level.”

She found — to her surprise — that she was not a stranger to the town. When she was younger, her beach of choice was Sherwood Island. She had no idea, though, that it was in Westport. (Which makes her no different from many Westporters.)

After she beat out more than 50 applicants for the job — but before her appointment was announced — Fava visited Westport’s recreational facilities. She wanted to experience them from residents and visitors’ points of view.

She got “a very good, positive vibe” at places like Compo. “People were clearly enjoying themselves,” she says.

Compo Beach: a town jewel, beloved by all.

Compo Beach: a town jewel, beloved by all.

Fava declines to talk about priorities. “It’s too early for that,” she says. “I’ve already received stacks of documents from the Recreation Commission. I have my nighttime reading.”

The new director takes a broad view of her job. “I look forward to making a positive impact, in whatever way I can. I’ll be looking at the whole park system, not one specific site. And I’ll look at the whole well-being of people. There are a lot of aspects to this.”

Fava is already excited about one thing: her commute.

For 3 years, she drove 90 minutes (on a good day) from her home in Brookfield to North Hempstead — then back at night.

“I don’t recommend it,” Fava says.

“This will be great. And it’s all back roads.”