Another Park. Another Plan?

For many years, Luciano Park was a thriving neighborhood playground.

For 2 years during college, in fact, my summer job was supervising the small Saugatuck spot, between the railroad station and parking lot. Another counselor and I kept an eye on kids, organized a few games, and set up bus trips to amusement parks and Yankee Stadium.

Luciano Park, looking from Railroad Place and Charles Street toward the parking lot. (Photo/JP Vellotti)

Luciano Park, looking from Railroad Place and Charles Street toward the parking lot. (Photo/JP Vellotti)

Later, when Parks and Rec stopped funding the positions — and the area changed — Luciano Park was known mainly as the site of the annual Festival Italiano.

These days, it’s largely forgotten. And almost completely unused.

Home plate remains, but the rest of the softball diamond is gone. View is toward Railroad Place. (Photo/JP Vellotti)

Home plate remains, but the rest of the softball diamond is gone. View is toward Railroad Place. (Photo/JP Vellotti)

The reasons are varied. Saugatuck is no longer a place of small homes and large families.

The few kids with free time in the summer don’t play baseball in parks. They don’t swing on swings.

No one does, anywhere in Westport — except for the very creative Compo playground, which has sand, water and food nearby.

The seldom-used playground equipment in Luciano Park. (Photo/JP Vellotti)

Seldom-used playground equipment in Luciano Park. (Photo/JP Vellotti)

I was reminded of all this after receiving an email and photos from alert “06880” reader JP Vellotti. Walking through Luciano Park at 12:30 last Friday afternoon, without a soul in sight, he thought: “If there is a park in Westport that needs a master plan, this is it!”

He added:

As Westport thinks about its future, let’s give this park some thought. It need not only be for kids. Hundreds, maybe more, quite literally ‘park’ nearby every day.

Could this be a quiet place to sit before or after work? Why not add a fitness station as an alternative to the gym?

Good questions, all. And as Railroad Place prepares for the next stage of Saugatuck’s redevelopment, and residents throughout town ponder both Compo Beach and downtown improvements, why not add this tiny, valuable parcel into the planning mix?

(Photo/JP Vellotti)

(Photo/JP Vellotti)

10 responses to “Another Park. Another Plan?

  1. Don Bergmann

    The commentary seems right on to me. All should note that changes at RR Place appear to be in the offing so all open space is really valuable and important. Your, our, RTM Rep. Matt Mandell will surely be supportive.
    Don Bergmann

  2. David J Loffredo

    10 years ago we (Westport Little League) resurrected the ball field and played a half dozen seasons of Instructional Girls softball games on it. It was great for the siblings since there’s a playground, perfect for the coaches coming off the train for practices, and all in all an idyllic environment.

    Then the flea market people came and trashed the place and it took a solid two years for it to recover.

    It looks better now, I hope someone puts it to more regular use, you get a little of the “Wrigley feel” when you go to a game there.

  3. Michael Calise

    Oh my God! What a great place for a few Bocce courts! At one time we had four Bocce courts two at Longshore and two at Compo BEACH. Bocce courts at Luciano Park just a few steps from Mario’s Bingo!

  4. With the money the town wasted on the Compo Beach consultants they could have improved Luciano Park, redone the faded bike lane lines on Compo Road, bought a dog to chase the geese off of Compo beach and still have enough left over to pay for 06880″s party in 2015.

    Too bad nobody in Town seems to care about taking care of the little things that make the town great – they’re all to busy recreating the wheel!

    • Stacy Prince

      Gotta say I agree, Jeff. I don’t know if it’s legacy fixation or demographics (more voters use the beach than will notice “the little things”), but it’s so sad, especially when my taxes rival my mortgage payment each month.

  5. Questions on any proposed park improvements:
    WHY should we make our parks beautiful?
    HOW will the community benefit?

    Making this park more beautiful would give a great first impression when entering Westport. When coming off Exit 18, the commuter parking lot is the first thing people see–currently not a good first impression. The park is too small for sports, yet Saugatuck should have a multi use park. Renovating would enhance this area and compliment existing project. The elevation changes from Saugatuck ave could provide an opportunity to enlarge the park while creating a lower-level parking lot that would add 50-100 commuter spaces which would be protected from the elements. The view coming into Westport would be one of a park instead of a parking lot which is camouflaged by the park,elevation and select small retail buildings.

    The community would benefit by providing the following:
    * A continuation of the successful beautiful projects that Rowing club, Gualts and others have done.
    * Additional parking for commuters
    * A plan for the Saugatuck on other side of 95 to the train station would take an existing commercial district.and create a square of retail,restaurants in the train station area similar to what Darien has done to beautify there train station area, adding 6 restaurants and 25 new stores which increase a tax base..

    WHO pays for this?
    The retail buildings could be sold for $400-$500 per sq.ft
    The annual fees from additional commuter parking spaces for decades
    Commercial property values go up reducing residential taxes.

    Westport goes Green turning parking lots to parks while at the same time providing much needed parking for commuters and shoppers on weekends that is convenient, weather protected. I have lived in Westport 50 years seen our town’s development the good and not so good. Lets ask ourselves why? Then develop a plan that answers that question?… .

    Philip Ross

  6. Carol Luciano Swan and Chris Swan

    Timing is everything – as we finished our regular corner maintenance clean-up and check at the corner memorial at Luciano Park, as we have done for decades, weeding, picking up litter, checking on the American flag as we regularly do also, watering the plants we planted in the barrel and watching a number of young children swinging on swings and playing basketball, we saw this write-up and wondered why weeds are left growing around the swings and slide without any attention by the town? As longtime Westport residents and the only remaining direct members of Chief Luciano’s family in town, we like the idea of improved maintenance / but not transformed by some high priced plan or study. Open passive green space is at a premium in town these days – let’s maintain this as a park honoring a great Westport native son and not create some high-end play space.

  7. Bonnie Scott Connolly

    I remember with fondness Mrs. Luciano and also Jo who I enjoyed playing sports with at Staples and a little golf at Longshore. Please give her my regards.

  8. Marina Evenstein

    We live nearby and would love to see better kids playground there, maybe a little skating park? A place where kids could safely ride on tricycles/bicycles and learn to rollerblade for exampl, maybe benches? fountain? … but then again, who would come there if parking is such an issue at the train station….

  9. Joyce Barnhart

    What is the parking availability there for people outside the neighborhood who must drive to get there? It has great shade appeal on a sunny day, and no sand to clean-up after a visit.