Skip Lane: “Imagine Sand And Sea Grass, Not Steel And Chrome”

Skip Lane is a native Westporter, former professional football player and current realtor who grew up on Soundview Drive. He’s also a member of the Compo Beach Site Improvement Committee.

Yesterday he emailed “06880.” Emphasizing that he is speaking only for himself, he offers these insights into the current — and, he hopes, future — state of the beach:

Our volunteer committee was organized to improve the overall beach experience. Collectively the committee has hundreds of years of experience at the beach, but we all acknowledge that beach life has changed.

The number of people using it all year round, and the number of walkers and runners, has increased dramatically.

Skip Lane

Skip Lane

Our 1st goal is to address these people, and make the beach more accessible for these activities. We think we have done so, by adding a pedestrian path from one end of the beach to the other.

Our 2nd concern is the queuing of cars trying to get into the beach. I think the proposed plan addresses this as well.

The bathhouse is a disgrace. It needs to be updated and storm-proofed.

The big issue of public concern seems to be the proposal to move cars away from our beautiful beach.

If you go to any beautiful beach on the East Coast, you do not see any cars parked along the actual shore. From Cape Cod to Nantucket, the natural beauty of the shore is protected. The beaches are differentiated from parking lots. Why should we park on ours?

Our committee examined other beaches along the coast. We decided our beach would be much more natural and beautiful if we moved the cars back, and made the beach a beach. God forbid Westporters have to walk an extra 30 yards.

An East Coast beach with sand dunes, not parking.

An East Coast beach with sand dunes, not parking.

I recommend everyone go and walk Fairfield beach, Sherwood Island, Hammonaset and most beaches north of that. Compo will never be a state park, but do know that those parks were designed by professionals who had the natural beauty of the beach in mind.

I understand the issue of senior citizens, and I think we need to address them.

But imagine you are in your beach chair. You turn around and see sand and sea grass, instead of steel and chrome. It’s a tad less convenient, but imagine the difference. That is all I ask.

(The committee’s next meeting is Wednesday, April 23, at 5:30 p.m. in Town Hall Room 201. To follow the progress of the committee, and make comments, click here.)


84 responses to “Skip Lane: “Imagine Sand And Sea Grass, Not Steel And Chrome”

  1. Skip,
    You are not only beating a dead horse here, you’re putting up defenses against the totally indefensible.
    The large majority of Westporters (Not day trippers) and 100% of the large crowd at last Wednesday’s meeting, simply don’t agree with you or your committee about the parking and the benefit of “not seeing cars.” They want to park close to and facing the damned water so they can
    ENJOY it.
    Can’t you guys grasp that, admit to each other that you’re task is stupid and your “improvements” are dysfunctional; fix the bath house and go home.

    • Skip and his fellow committee members are not elected to their positions. There are no real consequences to them if they make the wrong decisions, and so it is for members of most the dozens of committees that make decisions on the quality of life in Westport. If you do not like the decisions these people and their committees make, then your only real recourse is to replace the people who appointed them while in the voting both.

    • Warren Shapiro

      Agreed!!!!! Well said! Leave it alone!

  2. Sorry Skip,
    I love parking near the beach. Especially during the winter months when I can look out to the water. Letting my goldens onto the beaches and back into my truck is important to me.

    • Eric William Buchroeder SHS '70

      Just remember Brad, pick up after your goldens in a civil, respectful manner and you’ll have nothing to worry about.

  3. jerrymacdaid


    You clearly aren’t paying attention to what actual beach users want.

  4. bobbi essagof

    I grew up on Long Island where the parking is hidden from the beach. One of my favorite things about Compo since the day I moved here in 1989 has been parking right at the beach. It makes the experience easy and takes away the need to make it a full day production. I can go to Compo for an hours or ten minutes if I want. With small children the walking and lugging makes a day at the beach into a project.
    Maybe we have it right and all the rest should look at our model.
    Yes the bathrooms are gross. Fix them.
    The parking is great. Leave it alone!

  5. bobbi essagof

    Oh yeah – what about access for handicapped and those who just can’t walk far and over dunes even on paths in the cold of winter or the heat of summer?

  6. If the residents of the town wanted what you describe, Mr. Lane, they would be going to Sherwood Island. Most of us go to Compo BECAUSE of our ability to park next to the beach. It’s not a matter of “walking the extra 30 yards” — we Westporters are not all as lazy as you insinuate — but being able to enjoy the sound year round in all weather. We don’t want you to move the parking and, more importantly, we are not willing to pay for such an “improvement.”

  7. Making it more a park and less a parking lot seems the most obvious and easiest improvement imaginable. Has anyone recently thought that Parker Harding Plaza’s best use is a parking lot instead of focusing the experience on the natural beauty asset of the waterfront? Where was all this concern for families and Sr’s when the Y moved out of town? Only in Westport is the obvious controversial. – Chris Woods

    • Ken Gilbertie

      There was a lot of concern when the Y first proposed moving to Rices Lane and long after that before they put a shovel in the ground. Where were you 8 years ago? I was not around when Parker Harding Plaza was conceived so i can’t comment. As far as the Compo Beach goes, I agree with the majority. Clean it up, make it prettier, but leave it functionally the same.

  8. Bart Shuldman

    Skip. While I appreciate ‘your’ opinion of what is best for our town, your reference of cars and beaches is not 100% true. May I suggest you go to Nantucket, where not only can you park by the beach, your can DRIVE on the beach. And based on how expensive the homes are, the residents clearly don’t mind.

    Most people face the beach on the water. Having the cars parked behind then is not a distraction to the beauty. In fact it makes it that much better as the access is wonderful. Parking on a winter day, while cold out, sitting in the car and looking over the sand and water is wonderful.

    Please don’t change it just because you don’t think it is right.

    Wow. Break what is not broken? Did anyone take a survey of town residents that support YOUR opinion? Before we change that I suggest we get input from those that live here and pay their taxes here. We deserve the same voice someone just have you being on the committee. How unfortunate.

  9. I heartily disagree with you on the parking. When was the last time you had a family picnic on South Beach and had to lug all the supplies from the middle parking lot? And do you have any idea how many people park at Compo and look out at the water when it’s too cold or rainy to walk? I walk the beach regularly and have never had an issue with safety, nor have I ever seen pedestrians injured. Compo is beloved by us because unlike Fairfield and the other beaches you can actually enjoy it from the comfort of your car.

  10. I totally agree with Skip Lane. It is such a shame to drive down to the beach and see nothing but the rear ends of cars. This is a great opportunity to make a real and lasting improvement to our wonderful beach.

    • Chou Chou Merrill

      With all due respect, since the Town seems to want to Nanny State people into walking…looking at the cars as you drive through might inspire you to park, get out of your car and walk the beach.

    • Ken Gilbertie

      What Skip said about beaches in Fairfield is only partially true. Jennings & Penfield Beaches have parking areas adjacent to the beach front, Southport Beach and Sasco Beach both have parking very similar to parking at Compo’s south beach.

  11. Faith Taylor

    Thank you Skip for explaining the reasoning behind the proposed changes that the committee is considering. I appreciate that the committee is composed of a diverse group of concerned beachgoers who want what is safest, environmentally sustainable and serves the broadest population
    of users. I also appreciate that your recommendations are based on research and fact finding. A room full of people with the same opinion is not the same as a majority vote.

    • What research and what “facts”? Skip has his opinions, and that is all Skip has.

      • Bart Shuldman

        Michael. The sad fact is Skip has no facts or research. It is great he wants to get involved but it appears so he can influence to his OPINION. One only look to the other beaches in our area to know he is wrong in what he presented. And please-go to Nantucket. See how you can leave your car ON the beach.

        We face this issue with lots against changing the parking. Any decision this committee makes will need to go thru many other organizations. Just a shame we did not focus on the obvious. Instead we now build on another decision that divides based on someone’s opinion of how we all need to be.

    • Chou Chou Merrill

      Environmentally sustainable?

  12. Compo is unique and while I appreciate Skip’s point of view, we are not Cape Cod or Nantucket…this is Westport…and this functionally works for Westport. It is what the majority of people expect…and are ok with. Why do we have to be like other places when we have a unique resource like Compo… Fix the bath house and make the concession area nicer ….first priority.

  13. David J Loffredo

    Skip –

    I agree with you – it’s ugly to see all the cars – unfortunately though for many residents it’s also practical.

    Hopefully there’s a compromise in the works – good luck – no good deed goes unpunished in this town.

  14. How about putting the car issue to a vote to determine what the town really wants? That seems to be the right thing to do.

  15. Ted Friedman

    If you want to improve the visuals of the beach, perhaps we should close Soundview Drive, build big beautiful sand dunes across the road, plant beach grass, and put up picturesque red beach fences. Then we could install wave machines in the Sound so we could hear the wonderful sound of an ocean. Perhaps then we will be more like Fire Island, the Hamptons or Cape Cod! Actually I like Compo just the way it is, thanks!

  16. Chou Chou Merrill

    They came to the process with their minds made up. I was very afraid of this. AND…If I do as he suggested and imagine myself in my beach chair..WHY would I turn around and look at the steel and chrome? I love the toss away pseudo concern for the senior citizens. “…I think we have to address them”.

  17. David Machata

    I agree that the Bath House needs an upgrade, however, please leave the parking the way it is. If you can figure out a way to improve pedestrian safety that’s great, and a path sounds great, but people like parking close enough to see the water from their cars.

  18. Ellen Greenberg

    Skip, you refer to other beaches the majority of which have much larger pieces of property and very different erosion issues. When I sit at the beach I look at the water. When I walk at the beach I look at the water. I do not need a walking path. I walk on the beach. I also like to drive to the beach in foul weather and enjoy the view from my car.
    Traffic rarely backs up to Owenoke and is caused by people buying day passes. By moving the entrance you fix one problem and create others. It might be pretty to eliminate parking on th perimeter but now all marina and beach user need to cross traffic to get to the water.
    I like to park on the perimeter of South beach (lazy) and accept the long walk to the restrooms (not lazy).
    Less is more.

  19. John Siddell

    There is no reason to attack those who are offering their TIME to a committee trying to improve Compo. Obviously this is a big deal to most Westporters, especially those who are lifelong residents. Change to anything in town always brings about infighting among the residents. This is why the committee meetings are open to the public.
    I hope you all understand that Skip only wants the best for Compo. All agree that the Bathhouses must be improved. I believe Skip makes a good point about parking cars against the beach vs. the beauty of the beach & water views. Hopefully there is a way to make the majority happy by making concessions on both sides of the argument. As shown at the last meeting, the committee is open to the residents views. So please take a breath & let’s move forward to make Compo great for all residents to use the beach in a variety of ways.

    • John,
      Disagreeing and pointing out the disagreement is NOT attacking anyone…for God’s sake, grow the hell up and realize that honest, vocalized disagreement is not a put down but simply the attempted defense of a different idea stemming from a different perception.

      • John Siddell

        Why so defensive,
        I was simply stating my opinion or is that not allowed? And calling a committees task or in this case Skip’s idea “STUPID” is attacking. There are better ways of saying you disagree…Good day!!

    • Ken Gilbertie

      Yes, Skip and the committee are working for and in the best interests of the beach. Serving on a committee such as this can be a thankless job and one can become a target of criticism. However, the committee is not conveying in their proposals a complete consensus of what the majority of the people in town want. Yes there was a daylong workshop where the public provided input and the committee has addressed many of those concerns. But the parking issue is the major tipping point here and they seem to be telling us that they know better and to just suck it up.

      Kind of sounds like Washington, doesn’t it?

      • David J Loffredo

        Do we know that it’s a “majority of the people in town” or just a very vocal group of 50-100 people? This reminds me of when we asked Seniors if they wanted subsidized Senior Housing.

        There is such an attack the messenger mentality in this town it’s a wonder anyone ever volunteers for anything.

        • Bart Shuldman

          David. I would respectfully disagree. Skip presenter his opinion as a committee member in a way that was not inviting. In fact he used misleading statement to help him try and convince the readers of his stance. In addition he decided to tell us that we should easily be able to walk the 30 yards which upset some who cannot.

          If you join a committee and have an agenda then you potentially face those that will disagree. If you present an ‘option’ and ask for input the responses will probably be a bit lighter. But from what I have read, most of not all due respect Skip.

          But he has hit a ‘nerve’ and it appears to most his ‘opinion’ is not accepted by many others.

  20. Brian Scruton

    Skip is absolutely right. Compo should not be a parking lot. I commend Skip for pushing for change to IMPROVE compo beach. If I really wanted to go stare at cars, I would go sit on I-95.

  21. Michael Calise

    Thank you for your letter. It is a valuable step in this process because it brings credibility to my letter and frames the argument. It is also good that the committee is now out of the shadows and into the public eye. I frequent the Penfield, Fairfield beach complex year round and I agree it is a wonderful beach. I enjoy the fact that it has over two miles of waterfront and a long fishing pier. There, at that point the differences end, it like compo has sand and water. Instead of looking at cars you look at beach clubs, houses with lots of windows and signs constantly reminding you that the line above the high water mark is private property. As a previous writer mentioned Southport and Sasco beaches have nose in parking, so does Burial Hill and Old Mill and many other beaches throughout Fairfield County. When I am at Compo I only see the sand and the water and all my Westport friends. Skip, you have to face up to it postcard views are great but for many generations Americans have been, and will continue to be, tied to their trails and hitching posts.

  22. Skip, thank you for your letter and comments. As I had mentioned in a previous post yesterday, I commend your committee for volunteering to help improve our beach. Going forward, I think perhaps it might be a good idea for the Compo Beach Committee, First Selectman Jim Marpe, Parks and Recreation Commissioner Charlie Haberstroh, and Parks and Recreation Director Steward McCarthy, to maybe entertain the idea to “re evaluate” the goals and direction we should go as a town with Compo Beach?
    One thing all of you commenting should understand, these comments we make should all be done in a civil manor. We are adults. Everyone loves our beach and we should respect those who are volunteering their time and effort, even if one doesn’t agree with the process, or ones views.

  23. Sandy Soennichsen

    Skip….I take umbrage in your remark of “God forbid Westporters have to walk an extra 30 yards.” Fortunately you are of good health, at least I hope you are, but I’m a senior citizen who has coronary heart disease, and 30 yards IS a long walk. And that’s without having to carry anything. Look around, there are many handicapped people that use and love Compo, and now you want to put an extra unnecessary burden on them? As it is, there are no handicap parking spaces between the bathhouse ones to the cannons and down South Beach. Sure, state regulations mandate how many handicap spots are required in specific situations, but that doesn’t mean that more than the mandated allotment can’t be added, as long as it’s not overwhelming. Then there are the mothers with young kids and all the accompanying baggage, another consideration to be made when addressing parking. As for the people who want to cruise the beach and only see glass and steel, well, let them park the car and get out and walk down to the beach, or hopefully be able to park right on the beach if a spot is available and get the full wide angle view of the beach and water. Obviously, if the only time they have is a 4 minute drive-thru, then that’s not enjoying the beach in its fullest sense, and no effort should be made on their behalf to address the imagined parking problem at the beach. The primary concern should be for the people who are going to the beach and staying for a while or for a lengthier time, not just cruising through. One advantage of cruising through is seeing some really great looking cars that you don’t see in a lot of other beaches.

  24. I grew up in Westport from 1966 until I moved to Cape Cod in 1972. I spent many days at Compo beach and while I understand about the bath house, and the need for a bathroom on the South Beach, the rest of what Mr Lane says I do not agree with. Cape Cod is protected by the National Seashore, but if you go to Herring Cove in Provincetown, Mayo Beach in Wellfleet as well as most of the beaches there is parking right up to the beach. They accommodate handicapped folks with beach wheelchairs and walk ways at some of the beaches. If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it! Everybody knows if you want to get a parking spot at the beach to get there early, and they are used to having to wait in line…Maybe the tourists should catch a shuttle bus downtown to the beach… Seems there are more important things to “Fix” in Westport, like revitalizing downtown!

  25. Bettina Calise Cooleen

    We are not Cape Cod or Nantucket, or even sand dunes & sea grass. We are Compo. We are the Sound. We hold our own beauty, character & identity. Why do we need to be copy someone else’s?

    • First of all, I also appreciate the time and effort you (Skip) are putting into trying make Compo Beach and Westport a better place for all. I’m certain the community will work out the best solution for the parking but it may be nice to have certain areas with more green/beach space and less parking. I understand that parking at the beach seems to be an attractive amenity for some which should be able to be maintained in certain areas…Perhaps there is some middle ground (no pun intended) that can still leave plenty of parking at the beach for those who truly value that amenity and re-structure a portion of the parking for more green/beach area that would serve as (I think) a wonderful community area for events and or activities. I would wager that the majority of people who visit the beach wouldn’t be that amiss if they had to walk a little bit further than how it is set up today. I have read the comments and understand that if all the parking were moved it could be an issue therefore there has to be some room for compromise to allow for some positive change (change is good and inevitable) while maintaing a good portion of beach front parking!

  26. Michael Nayor

    Hopefully the idea of a “charrettee” and public input is not merely window dressing. Skip’s comments seem to say “Thank you, but the committee’s many years of combined experience trumps the desires of the electorate”. The Administration, its commissions and committees should be responsive to those desires not the reverse. Often these clashes revolve around aesthetics. Witness the poor decision to build California-style elementary and middle schools years ago, for which we are still paying a price. Listen to the collective wisdom of Westporters: fix what needs to be fixed, provide the new services that have been asked for, enhance safety and convenience but don’t try to create a massive capital project that you hope will be your lasting legacy. Westporters will appreciate your scaled-back efforts far more..

  27. Mark J. Marcus

    Mr. Lane: One of the things that makes Compo beach so enjoyable and unique is the ability to park a car facing the water and enjoy the view. Westporters do this not only in the warm weather months but in the fall and winter as well. Many people enjoy a cup of coffee or a bite of lunch while taking in the view. Years ago I served as a member of the Board of Selectmen and Vice Chairman of the Planning and Zoning Commission. In those positions my colleagues and I learned to listen carefully to what our fellow Westport citizens were saying about the issues of the day. What they are saying about this issue is: “leave the peripheral parking alone.” Westport is not like every other town and Compo beach does not have to look like every other beach.

  28. Jennifer Johnson

    Keep the cars on the waterfront….my car, my spot. We’re really good at that in Westport. I have kids. I like to barbecue. I too like the convenience of having my car belly-up to the beach. It’s great to have the best view. But, the problem is that everyone else now has to navigate around my tail pipe. My car is what everyone else sees who might want to walk, or didn’t get there before me, or maybe just wants to drive the loop and see the water. Maybe keeping my car belly-up to the beach isn’t necessarily the best choice after all.
    It’s not far to walk across the street, especially if their are multiple drop off lanes, and safe designated places for pedestrians. Across the country, kids help carry beach stuff. The current situation of being forced to emerge between two parked SUVs, or walk behind them is not safe, no matter how you argue it. Nothing being proposed is dramatic. It’s just different. It’s a master plan for future generations. People and pedestrians are the priority, cars second. It’s the mentality our town needs to adopt wherever we can. We can’t change the fact that the ‘mom and pop’ shops are gone, but we can change our historically bad behavior for how we prioritize cars over people.
    Btw, people severely opposed the beach playground too. At least we made the right decision on that one.

  29. My Mom @ 88, 89, 90 years of age could’t get out and walk the beach. She and Edith would drive through the beach every day maybe 2 times a day, park and watch the waves, the birds, the people, dogs, whatever there was to see. This luxury for them gave them entertainment and got them out of the house at least 350 days a year. Don’t take that away from the residents that have spent so many years in the town and still want to enjoy what is theirs. Take all sides into consideration when making these “improvements” .

  30. Sally Campbell Palmer

    If we were dealing with a 100 acre site, I could agree that we might find an area where cars could be eliminated from the beach edge. But this is a small, intensively used recreation area where every square foot counts. Removing appoximately 150 to 170 cars from the perimeter to central tarmac parking (or heaven forbid, did I hear gravel?) will eliminate much overflow parking which is sorely needed many times during the summer. Plus it will requre that everyone, young and old, will have to cross traffic to get to the beach. Part of why the beach is loved is its ease of use for all. What a treat, after a long work day, when you can pack up dinner, pull up and unload to cook out at South Beach. Someone said it’s even easier to locate friends and family at the beach when you see their cars. The way the beach is used has never been a problem and never in the many decades I have been priviledged to live here have I heard anyone complain about it. Fix what lack of maintenance and ignoring the need for incremental updates along the way has done to the fabric of the place. Add a few new things even, but don’t change how we use the beach. Thanks.

  31. Charlie Haberstroh

    All these comments are good in that opinions are being expressed and for the most part comments are civil. To remind everyone of the process: At some point in the near future (timing to be determined) the Committee will make its preliminary findings along with rough cost estimates to the Parks and Rec Commission. It will be a public meeting. The Parks and Rec Commission will give its comments and suggested changes to the Committee, which will incorporate those changes and proceed to the Planning and Zoning Commission for Comments (also Public Meeting). The Committee will take those comments and incorporate them into their proposal. At some point thereafter the First Selectman and Parks and Rec Director will review the proposal and will formulate its proposal to go to the Parks and Rec. Commission for formal approval (Public Meeting), then to the Planning and Zoning Commission [if necessary] (public meeting), the Board of Finance (Public Meeting) for approval and RTM (Public Meeting) for approval. The public will therefore have many meetings and venues to make their concerns known to both appointed and elected officials.

    There are some intermediate steps which I have omitted (like presentations to the various committees of the RTM, for example) which are also public meetings.

    As far as I know there is no way a “public vote” can be made on these issues. That is why all of your individual and collective comments are so important.

    Lastly I commend the Committee and its members for spending the time, surfacing and reviewing as many alternatives as possible, however controversial. The process is not perfect and democracy is not pretty sometimes, but hopefully the final plan will based on a realistic, cost effective consensus on what needs to be done.

    Charlie Haberstroh
    Chair, Parks and Rec. Commission

  32. Thank you Jimmy Izzo. Let’s keep it civil…however, the best way to keep it civil is to keep it simple. If it ain’t broke don’t try to fix it. The structures yes…some of the landscaping yes… Parking and traffic flow…. Well…the 06880 community has spoken and I think most readers seem to be in support of leaving things the way they are. It also appears that the committee is actively following social media like 06880. It is important, having served on several similar Town committees in the past, that you do not lose site of the greater publics voice at hand in lieu of personal preferences or a constant comparison to other Town’s. Compo is unique and is consistently cited as one of the major attractions and one of many other top reasons people move to Westport…part of tremendous amenities we all benefit from.

    • David J Loffredo

      The 06880 community is predominantly an “I remember when….” crowd. Dan posts a picture of the Clam Box and there are 55 comments, he posts a story of something more contemporary and there are 5. So it doesn’t shock me that most in “this community” want things to remain the same – and while they may be a vocal group they’re not the only group. Most of the town of 10,000+ adults don’t know this blog exists (sorry Dan, they’re missing out!) nor do they have the time nor the energy nor the desire to attend any town meetings (especially the nyc commuters who are gone 70+ hours a week and then have to chase their kids around all weekend). So I hope there’s a compromise and I trust the committee is smart enough to come up with one. There’s no reason to remove all of the beachfront parking, but it also doesn’t have to ring the entire beach.

      • Sandra Cenatiempo

        I think that we can agree that we all love and cherish Westport, people old and new. That being said – while maybe some of the 06880 community is a “I remember when…” crowd we should be praising them for protecting and enhancing the community that has drawn people from all of the world. Westport would not be Westport if it wasn’t for generations of families that have supported the community in many contemporary ways throughout the years. It’s not that “this community” wants things to remain the same (that’s not a fair statement) “this community” just wants the RIGHT changes that will benefit all of Westport and its future generations. Controversy is a healthy way to solve any problem – we all know that and appreciate it. Committees will always be a vital part of a planning process but they need to take everyone’s input into consideration. It’s a shame that the citizens of Westport were not fully aware of the Compo Beach Committee or the dramatic changes planned for Compo Beach. If it weren’t for Dan Woog’s “06680” it would have never been brought into the public eye. (Thanks Dan!) We do need to figure out how to reach out to the “10,000 + adults” that may not be aware of what’s going on in Westport. I think it’s fair to say that everyone that lives in Westport has worked long hours over the years but they need to be in tune with the community. If the people that don’t have the time or energy to attend meetings or be involved in the community then they should look to and support the longtime residents of Westport who have persevered to secure and create the Westport we live in today. If you do decide to get involved – great! And, if you choose to remain in Westport for the awesome town it is I’m sure at some point in your life you’ll be saying……..”I remember when…….”

        • Janice P. Marcus

          Thank you, Sandra! You are spot on. There is something magical and very special about Westport, as those of us who have lived here for a half-century or more know so well. We’re trying to balance staying up-to-date with preserving all the characteristics that have made this town unique. We’re hoping that newer residents will join with those of us who grew up here and/or came here with our families in the late 40s and 50s, who cherish what we found here and love about this town. Some things cannot be changed, because time moves on, but others should not be changed.
          Perhaps the peripheral parking aspect of the proposed plans, along with the entire proposed plan, should be the subject of a referendum?
          Because there are many of us here who remain young at heart, but who remember when.”

  33. Whether one is for “change” and a “master plan” for Compo Beach or simply happy with the way Compo Beach is; I suggest everyone who is commenting on this blog to please attend the Compo Beach Committee Meetings…Listen…respect others…and speak…WEDNESDAY APRIL 23, TOWN HALL ROOM 201

  34. As mentioned in the beginning of the blog, the Compo Beach Committee meeting is at 5:30 pm Room 201. WEDNESDAY APRIL 23

  35. Sandra Cenatiempo

    Let’s face it, Compo is a natural beauty. You can’t try to change the natural landscape of Compo by adding sand dunes and planting sea grass – nature won’t let you. Can you imagine trying to restore sand dunes and re-plant sea grass every time there is a storm? Let nature be and let’s fix what’s not so pretty at Compo; the crumbling bathhouse and the smelly bath rooms and please, let’s keep it modest. We don’t need a large, overbearing country club like building. As the committee moves forward, hopefully taking into consideration the public views, please keep in mind – it’s a beach, not a park. And we are not sitting on park bench feeding the ducks. People go to Compo to be active. They play baseball, basketball, Frisbee, volleyball. Some hang out on the sandy side to catch some sun or read. Many park at South Beach to grill with family and friends or launch their hobicats or windsurfer. Peripheral parking is vital to all the active people – they all come with baggage; moms with their kids and bags full of blankets, towels, toys, coolers, chairs & umbrellas. The people grilling with food, coolers, tables, chairs. Windsurfers with their windsurfers (who, by the way, have to purchase an additional pass to be able to launch). Let’s not make their fun, recreational activity become a chore. AND please, respect our Seniors. (and no offense to the Seniors – I will be one soon) They need to be able to park right in front of the beach. Picture this: They pull up to drop off their beach gear. They carry a chair or two to the beach and then to make matters worse, they have to leave the beach area where they just dropped their stuff, get back in their car, go park their car, walk back to the beach and then try to find their stuff? I don’t know about you but I’ve forgotten many times where I parked my car at a parking facility. Imagine trying to find your stuff on a crowded beach!! Plus after all that, they’d be exhausted!

  36. Barbara Wanamaker

    Mr. Lane,

    Growing up on Soundview Drive you were able to enjoy water views every day, year round, from the comfort of your home. You didn’t have to walk very far to the sand. Please don’t try to deny the majority of Westporters those simple pleasures. Compo is a BEACH, not a resort.

    Let’s replace/repair what we have and above all, let’s use our tax dollars to MAINTAIN what we have (the profound neglect of this property over many, many years is a disgrace) and to enforce the “rules” which no one seems to have the authority to do.

    As so many others have said, if it’s not broken, don’t “fix” it!

  37. Eric William Buchroeder SHS '70

    And, if you play football, always wear a helmet or someday you could end up on a committee, making no sense while simultaneously failing to comprehend what anybody is saying.

    • Somebody should bust your nose, Eric.

      • Tom this is my first volunteer political thing for lack of a better term.what I have been told by experienced people is these same whatever’s show up every time but I have truly found it enlightening.I just had to chime and and say I want to have a beer with you Eric and Michael,that would be fun,you in?

        • Eric William Buchroeder SHS '70

          Having played football long ago with another Lane that may be related to you Skip, I can’t think of anything more fun than sharing a beer. I never did that as an athlete in Wetspot, but that was long ago and like Wetspot, I’ve changed 😉

        • You bet !
          Race ya to the diner !

  38. Laura Bloom (class of 1976)

    Do some marketing research. Hand out questionnaires with golf pencils to cars that drive into Compo. See what the majority of Compo users want. That’s the only way to answer the question properly. And, if there haven’t been any pedestrian safety incidents of worrisome level (that you’d expect to be worse than those experienced with the proposed parking layout) I don’t see that as a valid reason for change.

    I grew up going to Compo and much of my visits were short stops for a calming “breath” of the views from my car. Rain or shine, summer or winter. If you take the beach parking away, how will people “watch the submarine races”. I’ll never forget, skipping out of Staples one lunch break, going to Compo and spying my Dad and his new girlfriend (later wife) necking. I loved it. What a lovely memory and opportunity for them to stop and smell the roses (or each other’s hair).

    • Nancy Hunter Wilson

      You’re spot on right, Laura. Compo holds a treasure of memories.
      It’s really the last bastion of Westport.

  39. Nancy Powers Conklin

    I want to mention one, huge beach that is beautiful, serene and handles cars and parking without a problem: Daytona Beach! Cars have been driving on the beach and parking on the beach since the early 1900s!! It works and works well! As far as local goes, Burying Hill Beach is small yet, has a number of parking spaces right up next to the beach without any problems! Don’t mess with what works!

  40. Mr. Lane,

    I can only speak for myself, but I have a feeling my sentiments are shared by an overwhelming majority of long time Westporters. For those of us blessed enough to have called Westport our home for many MANY years (nearly four decades here)… Compo Beach is sacred ground. You are messing with something we all hold very near and dear to our hearts. You’re not talking about tinkering with YMCA parking or just trading one generic storefront for another in our now unrecognizable downtown. This is about the heart and soul of Westport. Nearly every single one of us have cherished Compo beach as OUR beach. It is perfect just the way it is. Maintain that perfection. Fix the bathrooms. Leave the rest alone. If you get your way and move the parking away from the beach, and our handicapped and older residents, or children, and dogs , have to cross traffic to get to the beach, how many accidents do you think will occur when those who just want to ” drive by” and ” see sand dunes instead of cars”….run over the same pedestrians your thoroughly wretched idea purports to attempt to protect?? In all the forty years my family has resided in Westport, I honestly cannot think of a single occasion when the current layout has presented a safety problem to anyone. People who want to walk, can walk on the beach, or the boardwalk. If you have such a hankering to look out your window on Soundview drive and see sand dunes and sea grass like they have in Nantucket, please …MOVE TO NANTUCKET. Perhaps you are suffering under some delusion, since you live on Soundview and can see our beach from your window, that Compo is your own personal yard that you have some self ordained right to relandscape?? it is not your yard. It belongs to all of us. To evey one of us who spent our childhoods diggingn sand castles and swimming to the bouys with our fathers, to those of us who had our first kisses in a car parked in front of the Cannons ( do you wish to move those too??) , for all of us who have pulled up to our favorite spots on rainy days, snowy days, to enjoy a song in our car, say a prayer, or have a cup of coffee and simply soak up the beauty of the waves crashing on the shore while our babies sleep in their car seats. YOU do not have the right to strip those sacred memories, those cherished moments, from our lives. Please, find some other outlet for your need to dictate to others how we should like our beach to be. We love it as it is. And, please …Don’t insult people who can NOT walk 30 yards to the beach. Check your ego, and leave Compo as it is. Also, the snarky comments by some person(s) about how all of Dan Woogs 06880 readers are just ” remember when”ers…is outrageous. It is the very people who have lived in this town for many many decades, who have made this town great, and quite frankly, I feel sorry for all those newbies who have no idea regarding the history of our town and cannot ” remember when”. It would be an absolute tragedy, if, heaven forbid, some committee member like yourself made all of us who cherish Compo Beach , someday, have to say..” Remember when Compo was wonderful??”…. PLEASE…DON’T MESS WITH COMPO. Thank you.

  41. Arline P.Gertzoff

    We have national seashore parks for the seagrass and dunes. As Ms. Wanamaker correctly says” Compo is a beach Not a resort.” Our tax dollars should be spent to improve the entrance,bathhouses, boardwalk and my favorite topic better drinking fountains.’.A proper WC and small concession at South beach would be nice.Leave the perimeter parking alone. It’s part of Compo’s endearing charm.. Again LCA(Leave Compo Alone)

  42. Sandra Cenatiempo

    I think that we can agree that we all love and cherish Westport, people old and new. That being said – while maybe some of the 06880 community is a “I remember when…” crowd you should be praising them for protecting and enhancing the community that has drawn people from all of the world. Westport would not be Westport if it wasn’t for generations of families that have supported the community in many contemporary ways throughout the years. It’s not that “this community” wants things to remain the same (that’s not a fair statement) “this community” just wants the RIGHT changes that will benefit all of Westport and its future generations. Controversy is a healthy way to solve any problem – we all know that and appreciate it. Committees will always be a vital part of a planning process but they need to take everyone’s input into consideration. It’s a shame that the citizens of Westport were not fully aware of the Compo Beach Committee or the dramatic changes planned for Compo Beach. If it weren’t for Dan Woog’s 06680 it would have never been brought into the public eye. (Thanks Dan!) We do need to figure out how to reach out to the “10,000 + adults” that may not be aware of what’s going on in Westport. I think it’s fair to say that everyone that lives in Westport has worked long hours over the years but they need to be in tune with the community. If the people that don’t have the time or energy to attend meetings or be involved in the community then they should look to and support the longtime residents of Westport who have persevered to secure and create the Westport we live in today. If you do decide to get involved – great! And if you choose to remain in Westport for the awesome town it is I’m sure at some point in your life you’ll be saying……..”I remember when…….”

  43. Mary Ann West

    Oh, where do I start?
    Anyone who has felt the after-effects of a company hiring/ bringing in a “Consultant” knows that they will always recommend change, otherwise, why would you hire them? How many have found that the change, once implemented, gets reversed later as a bad experiment?

    Comparing Compo to Sherwood Island State Park is apples to oranges. Sherwood Island has 234 acres of beach, open fields, marsh and woodlands. Sherwood Island can host a walk/ fundraiser for thousands and still have room for those who just want to enjoy the beach. They have parking for up to 4,000 vehicles and welcome on a hot, summer weekend day, 20,000 guests who come to Westport for many different reasons. There are several parking options including parking near the East Beach, and the Nature Center.

    Part of my welcome to Westport driving tour for those visiting us for the first time, includes Compo, Longshore & Sherwood Island. Each has it’s merits and I for one, as a handicapped person, request leaving the parking as is.

  44. Mr. Buchroeder, Class of ’70…why the rude cheap shot at Mr. Lane? Again, whether you agree with what the Compo Beach Committee is doing or you object, this blog has no place for cheap shots via fingertips at anyone. Mr. Lane like the rest of the Compo Beach Committee has worked very hard trying to in the end improve our beach. Maybe the plan is aggressive, but in the end, it has brought attention to our beach which does NEED ATTENTION. Mr. Buchroeder, please show some respect. We are all adults and should act accordingly.

  45. Barbara Wanamaker

    How much BEACH will be gained by eliminating perimeter parking?

    • Barbara, just imagine taking a left out of the park near the cannons.Only you would be going out what is now the one way in.To your right would be the same green island that nobody uses because it’s surrounded by cars and exhaust fumes.It would be green lawn that spills right into a bigger better beach.Add some new trees for shaded picnics.Are you with me ? If not thats ok too.I would love to walk it with you and hear your idea’s and anyone else for that matter.It’s a nice place but it could be GREAT,lets be open minded and try to think positive.Thanks for caring.

  46. Barbara,I forgot a bunch of things but one main thing.We are very concerned about the senior citizens and the handicapped.The committe is working hard at creating more parking spaces than we have today with great water veiws.Open to your idea’s.Thanks

  47. Barbara Wanamaker

    Skip, I really don’t understand how you can say “nobody uses” the green island. I’ve seen plenty of people use it — families with young kids, seniors, handicapped, those seeking shade, etc. Before changes are made the committtee should observe exactly how the beach is used year round. The cost of these proposed changes (let alone how long it would take to accomplish the same) will be astronomical and will only increase over time. We are already spending $?? for consultants (who of course want to make changes) when all we’ve ever needed is to take care of (i.e. maintain, repair/replace or improve) what we already have. If past performance is indicative of what we can expect in the future, all those new shiny toys will soon be in the sad state of disrepair as what we have now. Parks and Rec has fallen down on the job of caring for Compo for many, many years. Again, it’s a BEACH, not a country club or resort!

    • I agree with Barbara – people do use the green island all the time. Maintenance is a big concern. Getting rid of what some consider ‘unsightly cars’ is far less of an issue than the bath houses and rest rooms. Then there’s the issue of overflowing trash cans. If we can’t manage to empty the trash cans, how can we expect to maintain the improvements? I’d welcome the opportunity to walk the beach with the Committee and promise to keep my comments civil.

  48. Eric William Buchroeder SHS '70

    I can’t figure out why Skip doesn’t want to bring back Chubby Lanes (maybe its the anti-nepotism laws that have been put on the books since Chubby retired, yeah that must be it!). That would improve the beach. Hiring nice looking high school girls would improve the scenery and is less expensive than busing sand dunes in from the Cape. Also you could use the expanded parking lot to handle the submarine race enthusiasts that will no longer be possible at the beach thanks to Skip. Just put USB ports in the parking lot and everybody can watch them on YouTube.

  49. Jennifer Forrester

    Maybe I’ve missed it, but has anyone talked about how long all of these “improvements” aka construction would take, realistically? Surely this should be a major factor in the decision making process…
    During this time, what exactly would our access to the beach look like? Do they just plan on closing it entirely, or would orange construction netting replace the steel and chrome for months on end?

  50. I resent Skip Lane’s comment, “God forbid Westporters have to walk an extra 30 yards.”

    Is anyone on the deciding committee chronically ill? I have had days when I have only been able to enjoy the beach from my car.

    Has anyone on this committee ever driven to the beach with someone going through chemotherapy, parked by the beach, sat in the car and gazed out at the water, and felt that that alone was enough to make it a good day?

    Has anyone on this committee wondered how to navigate the beach with a parent and her walker and then felt relief thinking about parking by the beach and sitting on a bench that is right in front of the car?

    Some of us wish that walking an extra 30 yards (carrying a beach chair or helping an infirm person that far) was not a big deal. But it is.

    • This is one the big problems,Lack of understanding.We are planning on having more handicapped parking than exists now and plenty of parking with water views and better drop off areas than exist now.

      • Janice P. Marcus

        Well, Skip, it appears that one of the biggest problems is “attitude.”
        What’s needed here is less defensiveness and more listening and respect from the members of this commission (which nobody, to my knowledge, requested).
        “Plenty of handicapped parking” does not answer or even accurately address peoples’ ardent concern about losing the “peripheral parking” at Compo Beach. Many citizens, of all ages, who cherish that privilege park to gaze at the water when they are troubled, have had a stressful day or week. just lost a job, need some time to think, need to “get away” for a brief time, or just want to get the incomparable spiritual inspiration that comes only from “gazing at the water.”
        Most, probably, the majority of these people are not physically challenged, aged, or ill.
        What about them? Where will they be able to park and enjoy the view?
        They cannot access handicapped parking.
        Please, influence you fellow members to stop, review, inform — and rethink.
        With many thanks,
        Jan Marcus

      • If that’s the case, why even say that Westporters should be willing to walk an extra 30 yards?

        Assuming that there will be a smaller number of parking spaces that are more accessible, will these premium spots clearly state that they are for people with difficulty walking or getting out of the car? (Not all people with limitations have handicapped stickers.) I can’t imagine how this will work out so that all people who need the closer spots or a chance to sit in their cars by the water will be able to.

        I don’t think a strong enough case has been made for changing the current parking design. Many of the specific benefits of the overhaul at the beach have nothing to do with parking.

  51. Bart Shuldman

    One of the issues with a plan like this is not only the cost to implement–construction, etc, but the cost to maintain. With all the new sand dunes in what I would call the middle of the beach, between south beach and the cannons etc, what will be the cost to the twin to maintain? As we have watched year after year, a storm comes in and the beach needs repair. How much will be budgeted to maintain all the new structures and the new sand dunes? What should be presented is the additional costs over a 20 year period so we all know what this town is getting into.

    As for the cause to limit seeing cars, has anyone looked at the end of South beach? Huge parking lot next to the boat storage area. That will increase the opportunity to see cars and now boats. And from there it is quite a walk to the BBQ’s. Imagine the new traffic with people dropping off their food and stuff.

    Finally, has any budget been set for this project? Or is this a committee with what they consider a blank check only to see the ‘real’ committees in town override what they conclude.

  52. Sandy Soennichsen

    Skip….I’m sitting here imagining sand and sea grass. It looks beautiful, just like out on the Cape or on Martha’s Vineyard. Ooooops, sorry, I just vividly imagined the next storm, not even close to a hurricane with higher than usual tides coming in……and there goes that sand and sea grass, washed right out past the point. But I’m not worried, cause I know that you and the other members of the committee will personally go out there and retrieve it, or pay for the replacement out of your own pockets, not the town’s. What a relief.

  53. Skip, sorry to see you getting beat up so badly here. I for one would like to thank you and the committee for all your time and effort. For the most part I think the plan looks great. Respecting the old-world charm and casual atmosphere we all love and rebuilding a broken down infrastructure with an eye for positive change is not easy but I think your committee has done a good job walking the line.
    Having said that it is my personal opinion that the perimeter road should be preserved. At every beach I have been to in the world there is one common goal among beach goers; to park as close to the beach as possible. While it is true that dunes prevent parking close to the beach at many ocean beaches, Compo is not an ocean beach. In my opinion it seems silly to try and build artificial dunes that result in making parking more inconvenient.

    If I could make a couple of suggestions they would be as follows:
    1. As a compromise, leave the road where it is and instead of creating dunes consider a low-growing sea grass hedge between the cars and the new boardwalk to help hide the view of cars while still allowing people parked in their cars to see the view.
    2. Plant lots of shade trees throughout the interior sections including the parking lots and the “central activity lawn”.

    Good luck and thanks again!

  54. Hi Skip,
    Well, you did it !
    You got more candid and thoughtful suggestions than all the meetings combined.
    Folks may think you got beat up, but they have no friggin idea how tough you really are.
    Let’s hope all this makes for a better beach. And thanks to Dan for being the understated facilitator.

  55. Skip Lane’s letter on behalf of the Compo Beach Site Improvement Committee is troubling. For one thing, it seems to be a reversal of the Committee’s promise at the April 9 meeting that it had “heard” residents disapproval of the plan to eliminate perimeter parking at Compo in favor of a central parking lot and designated drop-off areas. Second, Mr. Lane’s letter seems to indicate that the Committee has turned a deaf ear to the very people it is supposed to be representing. Wesporters have spoken loud and clear on this subject. They recognize that this plan will not only create hardships for seniors and others unable to walk long distances, but it may actually be more dangerous than the current arrangement since it will force parents to walk children across what is bound to be a busy parking lot and because it may actually encourage “jaywalking” since the designated walkways are bound to be inconvenient to a lot of people. Moreover, this plan is a very expensive solution in search of a nonexistent problem, since the beach is already statistically very safe. (For more information and a list of other objections, read Save Westport Now’s op-ed at:

    One would think that in light of the turnout at the last meeting, residents wouldn’t have to give up their precious leisure time to attend another meeting. But given Mr. Lane’s letter, it seems that the Committee cannot be trusted–that residents may need to speak out AGAIN. I urge you to attend the meeting on Wed., Apr. 23 at 5:30pm in Room 201 at Town Hall. If you cannot attend, please send an email to Save Westport Now at and they will try to deliver your letter at the meeting.

    Jeff Block