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The Jeff Shoup Walk

Most Westporters know — and love — the Riverwalk, the brick path hugging the Saugatuck from the lower Jesup Green parking lot, past the library, all the way to the Levitt Pavilion.

Most Westporters don’t know, however, that before Betty Lou Cummings fundraised for the Riverwalk, there was a smaller path named for Jeff Shoup. It leads from the library parking lot — near the Levitt entrance — down to the Riverwalk.

The plaque — almost buried by foliage now, honoring a young man who died in the 1970s shortly after graduating from Staples — says “His love for nature will live forever.”

The other day, a longtime Westporter strolled down Jeff’s Nature Path. He found not beauty and serenity, but a mess of fencing and smashed trash cans.

Looking closer, he saw what he thinks may be a small amount of oil, leaching into the river from what — back in the day — was once the town dump.

We probably can’t do much about the oil — after all, the USS Arizona still leaks nearly 72 years after being sunk at Pearl Harbor.

But we can do something about Jeff Shoup’s Path. Perhaps it was overlooked during last month’s town cleanup day. Perhaps the fencing has something to do with the renovation of the Levitt Pavilion.

Perhaps someone — who remembers Jeff, or just wants his path to look nice — will spend an hour or so straightening it up.

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