Crowdsourcing The Ideal Westport

As 2013 begins, Westport sits on the cusp of exciting changes.

Downtown development is picking up steam. The west bank of the river may soon look very different. Saugatuck 2.0 is moving ahead (have you seen flattened-out Ketchum Street lately?). The Y at Mahackeno is a done deal, much teeth-gnashing to the contrary.

So, as a new page turns  — and while people are still wishing each other “Happy New Year!” — this is a great time to look ahead.

And to amass the wisdom of the “06880” community. When we want to, we can be a very thoughtful, creative and insightful bunch.

Here’s today’s assignment: What is your vision of the ideal Westport?

Everyone has his or her own vision of where Westport should head. What's yours? (Photo by  Sean Hughes)

Everyone has his or her own vision of where Westport should head. What’s yours? (Photo by Sean Hughes)

Take any aspect of the town you wish. Zoning, architecture, demographics, education, recreation, transportation, culture — it’s all up for grabs.

Let us know what you think Westport should be — and how it can get there.

Important caveat:  This is not a bitch session. It’s not about what hasn’t worked, or is not now working. It’s not about tearing down or mocking other people’s thoughts. It’s simply a chance to provide your input as to where you’d like to see our community be, in the months, years and decades ahead.

Click “Comments.” Let the crowdsourcing begin!

67 responses to “Crowdsourcing The Ideal Westport

  1. How about some more restaurants on the river with Additional parking for those establishments on the west side?

  2. Another Citizen

    I’d love to see a Westport (entire world) where people slowed down and were kind to eachother. Stop the bullying and stop beeping your horns.
    Just stop and smell the roses, coffee and all the beauty this town
    (entire world) has to offer.

  3. John Hartwell

    Reimagining the riverfront is the biggest opportunity for Downtown. Today, the cars in Parker Harding have the best view of the river. What could this plaza really be?

  4. Redo and widen widen the existing Compo beach boardwalk and extend it to the cannons. Change the parking to diagonal along that same extended stretch. Widen the entrance gate and redo all the chain link fence.

  5. Having an Arcade like Arnie’s Place again.

  6. In a better Westport, the BOE would manage the schools more rationally. The political class would cease spending OPM as freely as it does now. And there would be less of an effort for one group to force its will on another.

    • Maybe the BOE can finally stop following Landon blindly and use some good judgement.

      • When pigs fly.

        • Talkin’ to yourself, Nony. Not a good sign. I did that a lot in the last two years of my administration. Jes’ did wanna be there, I guess. Can’t blame me, can ya?

    • Indecent Exposure

      You are me and he is we and they are all together. Look how they fly like pigs eatin’ rye, look how they run. Get with it, E(ne)-mma.

  7. A more vibrant downtown, including the Westport Cinema Initiative’s new theater

  8. I’d like to see a town where when you leave a store, the person in front of you actually looks behind them to see if you’re there, to hold the door for you and not let it swing closed on your nose as they move along unaware of their indifference.

  9. bike racks at compo shopping mall

  10. Someone to pay me more than my house is worth so I can leave.

  11. A downtown that embraces the river rather than turns its back on it, replacing the parking lot with a wide, pedestrian-only promenade similar to Quebec City. It would be a place for all to enjoy both day and evening. Imagine an evening stroll along the river, licking an ice cream, hearing some street music. Wait, forget Quebec City, lets shoot for Paris!

  12. Mary Ruggiero

    My dream Westport: a completely walkable downtown with parking on the periphery. Buildings no taller than 2 stories – more sidewalk dining, planters and trees, maybe even a town square-like area with a fountain!!! (I think the BSD area may have one). lots of small stores with folks I can get to know. I’d like to wall off the Post Road at the intersection with Main St – no more turns from there. It’s great to have a major thoroughfare – just not in the middle of town – at least not for me.

  13. How about the removal of the parking spaces directly in front of Compo beach, to allow for a view of the Sound. Its one of the best vistas on the East coast, and often, all you you can see is the view of car bumpers. We can walk the 10 yards to the beach.
    Take down the signage in town. It didn’t use to exist & we got along just fine. Besides, to get lost in Westport is a good thing.
    Give a buy-back program to all who take down their fences, including the town.
    We could use more sidewalks & bike lanes.
    Move ahead with the Barron South Sr. Living physicality.
    Pave route 136 N.
    Greater enforcement against speeding & texting.
    Smile more. It benefits both the recipient & you. : – )

  14. Re imagine compo beach pavilion and bath house. I would make them one.. Make a larger covered area.. Add tables.. Umbrellas. Add Wi-fi to the area.
    A heck of a spot to hang out and view the beach/sound .. Have a picnic.
    I am open to either the town executing this plan.. Or perhaps the private sector via an expansion of Joey’s/restaurant.

  15. How about making Westport more bike friendly? Have you ever tried to take your kids on bikes down the Compo Road South “Freeway” in the supposed bike lane? Cars drive well past the posted speed limit and never provide enough room.. Also, why not make Compo Beach Road and Hillspoint Rd one way so its not so congested! Better bilking and better walking should be a focus!

    • Spoken by someone who doesn’t live in the area. Gimmee gimmee!

      • By “gimmee gimmee” you mean safety for my 3yr, 6yr, and 9yr old kids who like to bike to the beach? Then by all means gimmee gimmee… more and more!!!…. And please define “area” in your statement. As a Westport taxpayer I did’t realize that Old & Grey has his own special area – and I can’t contribute my ideas in the spirit of the discussion.

        • You can contribute, but plan for those ideas to be scrutinized and debated once voiced on a public forum.

          I do not know what crawled up Old and Grey’s butt. He’s nasty. That said, he’s also right. Your suggestion about making Compo Beach Road and Hillspoint Road one way just so that people can bike more safely on it is absurd and will never happen.

          Talk about traffic and congestion. Yikes.

          • Amen….and once again nasty is in the eyes of the beholder. I guess I missed the supposed tone of the post…but I did hear “Beautiful Dreamer” playing in the background.

            • The tone is positive. I like the debate and hearing all perspectives. Perhaps I should have stated the problem as opposed to the solution. The problem is that I feel I am risking my life when I bike to the beach and along the water down by Hillspoint Road. I wish I could enjoy a bike ride with my kids as opposed to fearing who will be zipping down the road behind me. I am not sure the best solution. Thanks for the debate.

  16. Widen and repave the roads where there is a lot of walker/jogger/biker traffic (Sasco Creek Road). We in the Greens Farms area could really use a few decent family restaurants that arent pizza joints. Now all we have are pizza, fast food and diners. Missing V terribly.

    • Personally, I’ve found that diners are the perfect family restaurant. Something for everyone, priced reasonably and relatively kid friendly.

  17. I am writing before reading comments.. a first time for me. I really love Burlington VT and the old St. Augustine Florida. Granted they’re both larger cites and and we’re just a town. But we’re touristy already.. ever look at the license plates on the cars in downtown Westport? Lots of out of towners. Both cities revere their older structures and new structures look old. Their commerce is robust and foot traffic is strong. Some streets don’t allow cars at all. Crafts made in the USA items are supported. I think you have to look at the totality of the area and which resources we might be missing. We should incorporate the Library and Riverwalk and make them part of the downtown…maybe with vendors and music and performance back there. Perhaps nearby offices can offer parking as partial forgiveness for taxes OR have a small parking fee that would go toward downtown support. Maybe we can have trolley cars that shuttle people from the parking lots of nearby schools on weekends. Perhaps a ticket from trollies or busses and parking garage receipts can earn you a discount at stores. I think street food should be allowed… even if they’re from the restaurants themselves. Our warm weather months are short.. we should do whatever we can to make life better for us. We’re a town built on the arts.. we should show that off, big, big time.

    • Sank T. Monious

      Gawd if I could live in Burlington VT I’d die a happy dude!!!!

      • Then why don’t you move there?

        • Good one, Frankie Bo-Bo! Reminding me of the Sixties. I get nostalgic thinking about my AWOL da–oops, did I say that? But good bumper sticker: Westport: Love It or Leave It!

    • Mary Palmieri Gai has it right on. All Town planners should be required to visit Burlington VT, St. Augustine, FL, and (I add ) Boulder CO to learn how pedestrian-friendly shopping area/streets enhance a neighborhood and create a casual, delightful and fun place.

  18. Dredge the Saugatuck River!

  19. I’d support the completion of a pedestrian-friendly town core, (starting with better maintenance of the sidewalks we already have), and the creation of more sidewalks & bike lanes. Extension of the existing Compo Road, Imperial Avenue, and Riverside Avenue sidewalks would connect Compo Beach and the Saugatuck area to downtown. A host of amenities & services would become reachable by foot from many of the more central residential areas of town.

    • I’d love to see more sidewalks. But more and more I’m noticing people walking on the side of the road, even when sidewalks are available. I’ve seen it on North Avenue, Long Lots and Hillspoint, to name 3 roads. Is this just another Westport “I can’t be bothered to walk all the way over there” thing?

      • As a runner sometimes I run on the road even when there are sidewalks because the sidewalks are so torn up I fell like I’m going to wipe out, parts of Easton Road are a perfect example…I would LOVE to see more sidewalks in good condition!

        • Yes Michelle. I agree. I wonder who is responsible for maintaining the sidewalks we have… is it the town or the homeowner? Also Dan, many of the sidewalks have short stretches on one side of the road before migrating to the other side of the road – then have stretches without sidewalk…..before the sidewalk is restarted…(Hillspoint is an example of that) I would be hard pressed to stay on the sidewalk during my usual run without jetting back and forth through traffic. When I get to more crowded portions especially on Hillspoint by the beach- I like to leave the sidewalks for stroller pushers and dog walkers. To me, sidewalks (and bike lanes) are a public health issue….we need to get people moving- especially our children and our seniors. Also, I would love to be able to send my children over to a friends house 10 doors down without worrying she would get hit by a car.

      • I have wiped out on a sidewalk a few years ago and I am still suffering. I always walk on the roads because the sidewalks are so poorly done. Ever walk the Willowbrook Cemetery sidewalk? Use at your own risk… I never do it anymore.. walk on the interior road to avoid it.

  20. Love some of the ideas presented here, particularly having many more sidewalks & bike lanes. In theory, I also like the idea of eliminating the parking spaces that are right on the beach (but where would they move to?) and reorienting Main Street so that the fronts of stores face the river. I’d also like to see a trend toward smaller houses, but I know that’s just a pipe dream. Most of all, I want to preserve what’s left of the New England character of the town and its architecture. Westport is a beautiful town. Let’s do everything to keep it that way.

  21. Eliminate cars on commercial stretch of Main St to create pedestrian friendly and active streetscape. Main St is too cramped in its present configuration.

  22. Melissa Ceriale

    Eminent Domain to create sidewalks and bike lanes thru town. Just think of the savings on buses (that no one rides) if kids could walk / ride bikes to school, the carbon footprint reduction from the SUV’s that could stay parked at home vs ferrying kids from one point to the next. My hometown (Grand Rapids, MI) has heated sidewalks around the schools for winter safety as well as underground services that were installed at the same time. i rather pay a town assessment than the cost of the generator proposal on my desk!

    • Seriously? Do you know how much it will cost to do what you are suggesting?

      And this is Westport. The mothers in their SUV’s will still shuttle the kids to every single activity no matter what. If my ex-wife is any indication, at least.

      • I know what you mean Frankie Bo-Bo. Even though Jenna and the other one have flown the coop, poor Laura still rides around in our Hummer to all the places she used to take them. Gotta love them fillies, dontcha think?

    • Agreed! More sidewalks and bike lanes!

    • Eminent domain is not needed as the town owns the land (up to the fence). It would be simple to widen the major roads when next they are repaved. Other than a little more asphalt and moving mail boxes …

  23. My suggestion is to wait and see how the Bedford Square Development pans out, first. This will – for better or worse – dictate much of Westport’s future and likely impact what is being suggested in the comments.

  24. Based on the suggestions posted here; I vote for no plan. That would be the best outcome of the “planning process” and would likely result is a dowtown that is financially stable.

    • Blue-skyin’ it my way, Nony! Love it. If this is thinking outta the box Westport-style, there’s no need for a box. Let me buy you lunch down at the ranch in Craw-ford.

  25. Turn federal flood insurance subsidies into an open land buy-back program so that the incentives for any property that floods frequently are not geared toward rebuilding, but toward creating a buffer zone.

  26. Hey, while I’m thinking big, I’d like 5 Guys to start selling the fries from Shake Shack, which are better than their fries. Also, if both of them would carry Lindt 70% dark chocolate, that would also be awesome.

    • I’d say both fries and burgers from Five Guys at Shake Shack. Or Shake Shack sell shakes at Five Guys. No opinion on the chocolate. 🙂

  27. Reinstate the Minnybus program. Not sure why it got phased out during the early 80s.

  28. Another idea — relocate the police station and use current space for a full service community center to replace the departing “Y”. Create a unified public zone south of the Post Road (“SoPo”) tying together Baron’s South, Senior Center, Community Center, Library, and river

  29. No change is worth considering unless it requires that piles of taxpayer dollars be spent on frivolous efforts. Clearly, the change that requires the most money while providing the smallest improvement in overall conditions is the best.

  30. Westport Mommy

    We are privileged to live in Westport just the way it is. For my part I would like to see more kindness, more gratitude and more consideration for others during the normal course of a day. The rude behavior of others never fails to shock me. I am also horrified by the way I have seen some people behave towards hard working folks at stop n shop, at the nail salons, and various other places I go to on a regular basis.

  31. Interesting that not a single person has mentioned an affordable housing complex for seniors? I wonder… Is this something people really want?

    What I would prefer to see is something like this

    Or like this

    But perhaps that is just me…..

  32. I would love to keep the small town feel, but ad more art and art spaces. Thinking outdoor sculpture parks, a museum (ala art studios or formal spaces or Bejing 798 District). Would love to see additional spaces along the river used for gathering – hope the river house will reopen as a casual dining spot and would love to see some place with a boat dock/deck for dining.

    You can never have too much music and theater so I hope that continues to develop.

    Just a wonderful place to be anytime

  33. People required to use their actual names when posting to local discussion blogs to keep the conversation respectful and meaningful.

  34. So far, I agree with Nony. Let’s plan to do nothing. That way, when nothing happens we can claim victory. Wish I’d thoughta that in Iraq. Well, next time.