Compo Beach Plan Moves To Parks & Rec On Monday

For nearly 3  months — ever since a raucous public meeting at which dozens of Westporters decried the possible removal of perimeter parking from Compo — the town’s Beach Site Improvement Committee has held work sessions.

This Monday (July 7, 7:30 p.m., Town Hall auditorium), the group hands off their draft master plan to their bosses: Westport’s Parks and Recreation Commission. The meeting is open to the public.

“We look forward to an opportunity to discuss the plan and receive public input regarding the recommendations,” says Parks and Rec chair Charlie Haberstroh.

“Compo Beach is one of the town’s crown jewels. Future plans for Compo Beach are important to all Westporters.”

Part of the plan. It shows new entranceways, an expanded boardwalk, and a parking area in the center of the beach.

Part of the plan. It shows new entranceways, an expanded boardwalk, and a parking area in the center of the beach.

First Selectman Jim Marpe notes that this is not the end of the process. “The plan is still a ‘draft’ document subject to further change and revision, based on the review of the Parks and Recreation Commission and additional input from the public.” He invites interested citizens to attend the meeting, and continue to provide suggestions and feedback.

If you’d rather  watch at home, the meeting will be televised (Cablevision Channel 79, AT&T Channel 99). And if you’re out enjoying Compo — parking close to the sand — check out the videostream at

(The final draft of the Compo Beach Master Plan is available at 

35 responses to “Compo Beach Plan Moves To Parks & Rec On Monday

  1. Michael Calise

    The “plan” is a seventy nine page document. One week which includes the July 4th weekend is far from adequate to provide ample time to prepare for the meeting. On Westport Now the statement is made that plan B leaves the parking exactly as it is. This is blatantly untrue! Plan A removes all waterfront perimeter parking. Plan B removes approximately 200 waterfront spaces.

    • Michelle Ludel

      This has gotten out of hand…a select few form a committee to make changes to Compo that the majority of residents don’t want, at least based on comments and meetings. Will residents get to vote on this? And what about a “Plan C” that leaves parking exactly as is, leaving all waterfront spaces ? Who’s paying for all this??

    • Tom Feeley

      Right on, Mike ! Way too heavy on pedestrian benefits who disappear 9 months and all rainy summer days.

  2. Ellen Greenberg

    Do they have a rain date for Monday? If the fireworks get rained out on Thursday they will be held at Compo on Monday. I know which I will choose.
    Do we have a budget or cost estimate? This plan fills a lot of “wants”, but do we really need toilets at the west beach or a new marina building. I don’t know of another public beach with lockers for seasonal rental. Are these self-funding? Is the marina self-funding?
    Fix what needs to be fixed and spend the rest of the money paving our roads.

  3. Bart Shuldman

    So here we go again. Another proposal to change our beach that most love. The ease of driving up to the beach is now under question and could be changed. Is there a vote by all Westporters as to how much we want change? Or do the loudest carry the decision?

    Add to all this is no details on the cost. Are we deciding to do this project instead of not repaving our roads? Does this project get more attention than others that are needed in town? I would hope we would start to repave some road soon as they are truly crumbling. Does this project get me attention than roads? What is the process to approve and what will we give up? Or is this all 100% additional spend on top of all others?

    When we view a design, does it come with the annual maintenance fee to maintain the change? Sand, trees, bushes, bathrooms all need maintenance. Have we factored in how much cost? Is it the same as what we spend today? More? Less?

    Many questions and I am sure many others could add to this list. And the biggest question-why are we doing so much change?

    Should be an interest in few months if not years watching this unfold.

    In the meantime-please repave the roads near Exit 41. crumbling is saying it nicely.

  4. Sally Campbell Palmer

    Having attended most of the previous beach plan meetings, the committee seems not to have heard the majority of voices requesting that they don’t fix what doesn’t need fixing, i.e. the layout of the parking and the beach pretty much as it is, and cleaning up what is only necessary. It makes sense to make the entrance more workable, build a new bathhouse/pavillion (given the price to repair the existing), extend the boardwalk to the cannons if everyone wants it, and even build a couple of bathrooms at south beach. But the cost of $7 million and up estimated to complete the proposed plans, much less their ongoing maintenance (plantings between the beach and roadway – will they last one winter?) is something most Westporters don’t seem to be aware of. I hope everybody pays attention and says something about this plan.

  5. Sonja Nikel

    With the parking being eliminated near the grills and beach and being that our town is filled with entitled parkers, I see lots of cars backing up due to those who have the “entitled parking sticker” stop to let out passengers and unload their cars.

  6. Harry Smiley

    Everyone should be paid up to date in town taxes before leading a coup against improvements.

  7. Sandy Soennichsen

    I can only hope, hope I say, that Jim Marpe and his staff, including Parks and Rec, have a lot more common sense than the committee and that company, which put together the plans. Already from what I’ve read above, I personally don’t like Plan A or B since I am strongly against removing any parking spaces from the waterfront. I also feel strongly that bringing in sand to make dunes and put in plantings is an absolute waste of time and money cause first the plantings will probably not grow here, and they’ll be gone with the first big storm that comes along. Those two ideas, dunes and plantings, border on the absolute ridiculous!
    What is needed and wanted seems to be: a new bathhouse [including Joeys (or whoever might stay to run the concession) but they pay their share of the construction], but why does it have to contain lockers for some people to store their whatever there for the summer, can they not schlep their stuff with them like the rest of us? And how does the town prioritize who would get those lockers? It should not automatically be first option to those that currently have those spaces, nor should it be done on a first come, first serve basis; it should be done on a random drawing.
    And what else is desired from the comments I read is perhaps a reestablished parking lot, exactly where it is now, but perhaps filled with crushed stone. And then perhaps, a small bathhouse/bathrooms at South Beach.
    Is it necessary to extend our boardwalk???? Why? This isn’t Atlantic City; if that’s what it becomes I want the first permit to build a casino at the beach.
    A new entrance? Geez, when does all this stop? I hate to think that the entrance will now be moved down the road a piece so that it has access for traffic from both sides. Where it is now, at the start of the One Way is fine. And all daily permit parkers should have to park in the parking lot across from the entrance, not in the park itself. Or anyone who wants should be allowed to park at Skip Lane’s residence or any of the other committee members who happen to have houses facing the water and beach and enjoying their unfettered view.
    As to the cost, did not Jim Marpe make a statement when campaigning that he “promised” (don’t know if that was the exact wordage), that our taxes would not go up more than 3%? I hope that not only includes the time he is in office (which depending upon the outcome of this Compo plan could be short lived) but even thereafter when this project is completed and paid for. Although I do have my doubts.
    And in finishing, is it not a bit curious to anyone else that the meeting to open discussions would be between now and July 7 (a mere 6 days to inhale and dissect a 79 page document while trying to celebrate the independence of our country) where it might be hindered or hidden by the 4th of July weekend activities and possible rain date for the town’s fireworks. Hmmmmmm, how did that happen?
    Let us be independent of that Compo committee and that consulting company they rode in on! It looks like the residents will once again have to bear arms, pens, phones, flyers to have their voices heard and common sense prevail.

  8. Dave Eason

    Please stop the madness. Fine tune the existing entrance, spiff up the existing bathrooms and bathhouses, add bathrooms at south beach and repave the existing roads. I am there daily and that little beach and the current setup works pretty darn well.

  9. Don Bergmann

    In my judgment, the Committee’s proposals reflect two quite reasonable approaches. The approach of not doing much of anything was not pursued because our elected officials and bodies, the Bd. of Sel. and the RTM, charged the Committee to come up with a plan or plans that addressed issues believed to be worthy of consideration. In addition, the damage to facilities from Sandy necessitated attention. The Committee received a lot of input and a wide range of often divergent views. The final outcome will now reside with the Parks & Recreation Commission, the Bd. of Sel., the Bd. of Fin, i believe the RTM and quite possibly the P&Z Commission. That outcome will also be affected by all of us, the members of the public. I expect that cost will be an important factor.. Finally, I add that I would like to see automobiles moved away from the beach. Others will disagree. Don Bergmann

  10. Michael Calise

    The vast majority disagrees with your position Don

  11. Tom Feeley

    Dumb dee dumb dumb!
    Both plan A and plan B eliminate the beachside parking at the East Beach… Not only costly but against the best wishes of most respondents that I’ve read.
    Bradley Street will become a parking lot unless you add a roundabout.
    The the absolute waste of money doing minor and in significant changes is beyond comprehension.
    I worked for years just trying to get P&R to clean the place up and it was impossible fighting with the insolent Parks and Recreation Department and the “we’re friends with Stu” parks and recreation committee of the RTM, both of which wanted to do absolutely nothing. The RTM Committee Chair bragged about how many out of town tickets were sold as proof that all was well. Ridiculous.
    There’s not a lot wrong with the beach that a good broom, shovel, and a mop wouldn’t fix in pretty fast order.
    Talk about a lack of maintenance…and now a complete REDO to cover up the years of neglect. STOP!
    I had hoped that a Republican administration might bring some brains to the table, but apparently that isn’t happening if this the result.
    Sorry, Jim.
    Get involved fast and get this back on track. Talk to Mike Calise, among others.

  12. If the beach is a “jewel”, why make $7,000,000 in changes? We should thank the Committee and put the plan in a drawer.

    BTW what of the disruptions the project will create? How long and how significant ?

    • Mike Alpert

      I am also not a fan if parking right against the beach. As we all agree this is a town jewel, let’s make some improvements now that will protect this jewel for the foreseeable future.

      Climate change is here to stay, so rather than spend money on repairs after every storm, make the changes necessary (whether dunes or berms) now so this is not a recurring issue.

  13. Kathryn Sirico

    Do not fix what isn’t broken. Are you not listening to the Westport residents? The beach needs cleaning up ….it looks uncared for. What it doesn’t need is a ton of money spent on changing everything. Let’s start with MAINTENANCE OF THE GROUNDS AND A LITTLE LANDSCAPING and then take a look.

  14. The comments made here by Mike Calise, Tom Feeley and Kathryn Sirico pretty much sum up what most people think and feel. Special thanks to Tom for his remarks about Parks and Rec.

    In total contrast to the proposals made are a few direct quotes from the committee’s/consultants’ Master Plan:

    “… majority favored improvements to current layout as opposed to complete reorganization.” They have certainly ignored that.

    “The goal is to refresh a much-loved town asset by enhancing and highlighting its natural beauty without taking away its charm.” Right!

    “Maintain panoramic unobstructed views whether walking, driving or sitting in a parked car.” As stated before there is no Option C.

    “The improved bicycle access will encourage park users to cycle to and from the park thereby reducing traffic and demand for parking.” They must be kidding.

    Other items in question would be:

    “a new bike lane on Soundview” …leading out to Hillspoint which doesn’t even have a shoulder and twists and turns. Should we not then provide bike lanes on ALL our roads?

    “… bury utility lines on Soundview so the residents have improved views” while the rest of the Town’s residents will have little or no water views ?

    In anticipation of Sandy the town built a huge sand berm to try to protect the beach.. We all know how that turned out. Why on earth would they now propose to create dunes?

    It’s time to STOP THE INSANITY!!

  15. Barbara Wanamaker

    The comments by Mike Calise, Tom Feeley and Kathryn Sirico seem to sum up the thoughts and feelings of most people. A special thanks to Tom for his remarks about Parks and Rec.

    In contrast to the actual proposals made by the committee and the consultants consider the following quotes from the Master Plan:

    “… majority favored improvements to current layout as opposed to complete reorganization.” Hello!!

    “The goal is to refresh a much-loved town asset by enhancing and highlighting its natual beauty without taking away its charm.” Is anybody out there?

    “Maintain panoramic unobstructed views whether walking, driving or sitting in a parked car.” Where is Option C?

    “The improved bicycle access will encourage park users to cycle to and from the park thereby reducing traffic and demand for parking.” That’s a joke, right?

    Additionally they suggest among other things:

    a new bike lane on Soundview (leading to Hillspoint which is very narrow, twists and turns and doesn’t even have a shoulder … should we then provide bike lanes on EVERY town road?)

    bury utility lines on Soundview so the residents have improved views (while the rest of us have little or no water views without perimeter parking)

    sand dunes and plantings (In anticipation of Sandy the Town built a huge sand berm in an effort to protect the beach. We all know what happened to that. Why would they think dunes would survive?

    It’s time to STOP THE INSANITY!!!

  16. Sandy Soennichsen

    It seems to me that NO ONE is listening, least of all the committee and that consulting company. By the way, is it really a consulting company or has it improved beaches in CT for other towns? And I assume we are paying them for whatever they do or have done for us (which so far really hasn’t been much from what I can tell). It doesn’t take a consulting company to expand and enlarge a plan done up by a committee if that plan is not acceptable to most residents to begin with, does it? Lets get rid of the committee, get rid of the company, and get on with fixing/rebuilding the main bathhouse ($7,000,000…..really?C’mon!), keep the parking the way it is, keep the entrance where it is, add a small bathhouse to South beach, and fix or replace the picnic tables and grills, and let us enjoy our summers without any more nonsense.

    • Tom Feeley

      Sandy, will you please stop making sense ?
      You’re giving me a headache 😉
      Where is Dewey when we need him?

  17. Lisa Marie Alter

    I totally agree with Tom Feeley, Mike Calise and the other Voices of Reason: CLEAN UP THE BEACH (on a regular basis – with STANDARDS) and stop trying to fix what ain’t broken.

    We don’t NEED fancy-schmancy improvements: new access roads, revamped parking, sexy new ball fields (with the same old goose-poop).

    HOW ’bout FIXING the boardwalk, which has been busted for the 10 years I’ve lived here: 2 garbage cans stand sentry over the raised boards (!)

    HOW ’bout hosing down the “gradoo” (Feeley’s term) that plagues the Pavilion the other 360 days of the year (ya outta SEE the flurry of cleaning and activity that’s been going on here on Soundview, in advance of the fireworks: the P&R workers are out in force, removing sticker bushes and weeds from the beach and seawall; street sweepers have the roads all backed up, clearing out busted glass and sticks, leaves and trash … but then they all go back to sleep after the fireworks are over and the place reverts to being a pig sty).

    HOW ’bout having someone on regular bathroom maintenance so it doesn’t smell like a giant PortoSan ? (Full disclosure: Haven’t been in the bathrooms in over 6 years — the last time I ventured in, I almost threw up — wading thru an inch of sandy sludge and God-knows-what)… from what I hear, it hasn’t changed.

    How ’bout clearing the sand from the boardwalk and playground — before it’s several inches deep… and clearing the snow and ice in the winter time …

    HOW ’bout increasing the frequency of the garbage collection… encourage people to throw out their refuse (if the cans are not spilling over)… and increase the number of cans and their placement (extend to the marina, and out along Hillspoint towards Elvira’s and Positano ? And even along Gray’s Creek to Longshore (“Poop Alley”)… ? And keep the cans AFTER the summer — when the beach becomes accessible to the entire planet, and the town REMOVES practically ALL the trashcans… ?!

    There are no trash cans once one leaves the beach past Schlat’s Point. Maybe – just maybe — it would encourage people to clean up after their dogs, and dispose of their litter and water bottles. I have a dog, and cannot stand the amount of poop that we dodge walking every day.

    OK, perhaps there needs to be some updates:
    A restroom down at South Beach.
    A continuation of the boardwalk down to the cannons, so one doesn’t have to walk behind the cars backing up.

    But, as a town, we need to spend something like $7 million bucks ?

    REALLY ??

    • Tom Feeley

      Thanks Lisa,
      You really wrapped up the whole mess as well as some excellent suggestions. Maybe Jim, Avi, and Dewey will Do Something intelligent ?

  18. Charlie Haberstroh

    I hear your comments.

    1. Meeting: The Parks and Recreation Commission meeting has been postponed until August. We are trying to find a date that the Auditorium is available and the Consultant and Committee and Commission members are also available. If we can’t find a date in August because of vacations, etc., we will have it in September. I hope that the public will be able to digest the report before the meeting.

    2. Maintenance: I would appreciate your sending me any specific maintenance issues that you have regarding the beach, or for that matter any Park to me at I would be happy to walk the beach with anyone who has issues with its upkeep.

    3. Process: We are at the beginning of the process. At this point this is a conceptual plan.The hearing at the Parks and Rec. Commission is one of many public meetings that will be held on this matter. The Planning and Zoning Commission will add its input after the PRC input. Then the Marpe administration will decide which, if any, of the recommendations of the committee and the two Commissions it will move forward. Once a formal project is put forward, the Parks and Rec. Commission, Planning and Zoning Commission will have to approve and the Board of Finance and RTM will have to approve funding. All are public meetings.

    4. The PRC meeting: It is my intention that all voices are heard at the PRC meeting. That means that all of us as good neighbors need to allow everyone who has an opinion to speak without interruption. Common courtesy and what distinguishes the US from other nations, is the ability to hear may opposing views without shouting them down. Sometimes I think we are losing this ability, but I am sure that Westporters are up to the task.

    I know a number of us feel very strongly about our beach and that is good. Whether you disagree with the Committee’s report or not, the committee members have been trying to listen and put something together that represents their best ideas based upon all the input they received. It is not a perfect system. I just ask that we please be civil to each other.

    Charlie Haberstroh
    Parks and Recreation Commission

    • Thanks Charlie, and Hi 🙂
      You, Mike Rea, and Helen Garten were the only RTM members who walked the beach with me and Lisa Marie Alter years ago when we tried UNSUCCESSFULLY to get the pavilion area, boardwalk, and bathrooms cleaned and repaired.

      If you recall, 2 years apart, Kirk Lang of the Westport News wrote scathing articles about the filthy conditions at Compo Beach…Google him and the Westport News for plenty of examples…not much has gotten better.

      You said: “I hear your comments.” But the committee didn’t ! And someone? let unlistened plans get published as the only choices offered.

      Phase one might be to make believe the beach is the money sucking golf course and send over all the golf workers to make it presentable. I see them meticulously sweeping every tee & every green every day.

      Then create the standards dictated by the RTM. HELLO?

      Remember that 3+ hour meeting where the RTM deleted the word “FILTHY” and other “dirty words” so as not to embarrass the selectperson? And then directed the P&R Commissioner and the RTM P&R Committee Chairman to implement those standards? NOTHING! WTF?

      Read the minutes and you will KNOW EVERYTHING that needs to be done.

      Charlie, I hear you about civility; but it’s a two way street. When someone [or a committee] doesn’t listen, raising your voice and repeating yourself is not being uncivil, it is an attempt to help them HEAR…and respond appropriately.

      May I suggest you proactively meet with the folks who posted here and walk the beach with them, then publish plan C, [and D and E if necessary].

      Best personal regards and GOOD LUCK!

    • Bart Shuldman

      Charlie. Thanks for your comments. You have to admit there is a lot of concern by the residents of Westport and much frustration. It is easy to understand given what has occurred so far.

      First we decide to spend money on a do called consultant. No doubt they will take things to extreme to justify their work. Imagine if their proposal was to maintain many things at Compo? Then the outcry would be–we wasted money. Which we did.

      Second, there are 2 plans that both seem to not reflect what the residents are willing to accept. Why not a plan C where the parking is not changed? What not a plan C where the bathrooms are fixed, some nice touches to the buildings and a bathroom near South Beach? Then you might have residents being positive about the outcome. Now we are fearful. And that leads to much noise and concern. What are there no other plans to review that do not need $6 million? And again, parking left alone.

      And it did not help that Jim MARPE said he put the $6 million in his forecasted spending. Maybe if he did not include Compo we would feel better. I for one thought that left a concerning message.

      Charlie- we walked right into this. All we have is a grand plan A and B and most don’t like it. Frustrating there was not a plan with less. Sometimes less is more. Why not ask for a plan that left more the same?

      Good luck with this. Another committee and spending that seems wasteful and more importantly divides our town. I have trust in you to lead us thru this.

  19. Sandy Soennichsen

    Tom……HUA my friend. Hey, is there a vacant house near you? Might have to move the way these people are screwing up the town.

  20. I realize this post is a few days old by now, but, I just had time to go through it and all the comments and wanted to go on record for being supportive of all those who have expressed concern/outrage at the proposed changes to our beach.

    Without going into detail, suffice it to say, we (my wife Catherine and I) feel that the beach is mainly in need of some modest tweaks, additional and more pleasing bathroom options, perhaps some changes to the entrance (but let’s face it, who has ever waited more than 10 minutes, even 5 minutes), improved maintenance, but all done to maintain the character.

    We had the pleasure of participating in the charrette last winter. The turnout was great, the involvement of all was exceptional and the ideas that were shared by the community seemed to all reflect what the vast majority of people who have commented to this post have said….Compo is not broken, it just needs some modest changes and maintenance upgrades. The fact that message does not seem to be reflected in the current design plans seems disturbing and is the cause for all the fuss. Is anyone listening?