Last Ollie For The Skate Park

Everyone’s talking about the big changes proposed by the Compo Beach Site Improvement Committee: a new entrance, renovation of the bathhouses, elimination of perimeter parking.

Hardly anyone has mentioned a smaller plan: the end of the skate park.

Eddie Kim knows the stereotypes of skateboarders: “hooligans, drug dealers and delinquents.” He also knows the Compo park attracts a wide variety of people, like a fearless 8-year-old girl who loves riding down ramps.

She loves the park, and would be devastated to see it close.

The Compo Beach skatepark

The Compo Beach skate park.

Kim works at the park. But during the school year he’s a teacher. He practices Bikram yoga daily, and founded his own theater company. He’s a skater too. For him, skating is a creative way to relieve stress.

Kim wants Westporters to see the value of the skate park, and the community that has grown around it. He asked several regulars to offer insights. One of the most eloquent is James Bowles, a Staples freshman.

James knows that many people can’t understand why he’s spent “every free minute” of the past 6 years on a skateboard.

He says that when he was 6, at Long Lots Elementary School, he was diagnosed with OCD. For the next couple of years he hated his life. But the moment he set foot in the Compo skate park — “heading into the great unknown” — he was hooked.

His fears and stresses vanished. He was hooked.

He visited the park every day. He dreamed of skateboarding at night. He met his best friends there. They’re different ages, but they gave him a sense of self-worth, of potential, of community. That’s something every kid needs.

The Compo Beach skate park draws quite a mixed crowd.

The Compo Beach skate park draws quite a mixed crowd.

This summer, James worked as a counselor-in-training at the Compo Beach Skate Camp. “Seeing the joy on kids’ faces when they finally roll away from a trick they worked extremely hard to land is mesmerizing,” he says. Some of them may have been going through their own troubles, as he had.

He adds:

Even though I’m still young, I’ve seen bad things happen to good people. Kids my age are swept up into partying, drinking and general idiocy. Most people assume that because I skateboard, I get caught up in that sort of stuff.

I believe that if it weren’t for skateboarding, I would have been more likely to do that. The amount of times I’ve turned down plans to do ludicrous things, because I wanted to go skate, is enough to know I’m doing something right. Skateboarding has been one of the best investments of my time.

James says that the freedom of skateboarding has allowed him to work through his OCD. It has also helped him learn to be polite, pick up after himself, and look after others.

“Compo has always been a safe haven for people to skate legally,” he notes. “It’s a space where parents feel safe leaving their children. Compo has been my favorite place for 6 years, and I can’t imagine what losing the park would be like.”

Plenty of skaters gained confidence and a sense of independence at the park.

Plenty of skaters gain confidence and a sense of independence at the park.

Others agree. University of Colorado sophomore Casey Hausman made lifelong friends at the Compo park. “It’s a great community,” he says. “Everyone is supportive. Kids don’t need to worry about disappointing teammates or parents. Any progress is encouraged and applauded by everyone, no matter what the skill level.”

Kim Celotto’s 13- and 8-year-old boys have been skateboarding at Compo for years. She calls the instructors “patient, wonderful teachers who all the boarders look up to and admire. They learn skills and confidence, while having fun with friends.”

And, she says, skateboarding’s emphasis on fun and individual growth — not “fierce competition” — appeals to youngsters who may not be interested in team sports.

Parent Debra Newman has seen many kids flocking to the park in 90-degree weather, with no shade. “Would we rather have them sitting in front of the TV, exercising their thumbs?” she wonders.

But the final word belongs to James Bowles, the OCD sufferer who found a haven and a home at the Compo Beach skate park:

“I know that the argument of a 14-year-old high school freshman hardly compares to that of a town representative. But I hope anyone reading this will see my point of view.”

43 responses to “Last Ollie For The Skate Park

  1. Eric Buchroeder SHS '70

    We should all thank Allah that no one has broken their neck yet.

    • Crude. Unnecessary.

    • Could someone please suggest two Bocce courts be installed, with benches for resting and trees for shade?! This activity might even encourage a little friendly neighbor conversation. And if you can’t put the courts at Compo, try Luciano Park. That could work too. The courts are inexpensive to build and maintain. Very few injuries will occur so liability will not be an issue.

      • Sadly, it’s doubtful that anyone here knows a thing about Bocce.

        • “Here” being Bugtussle Canada or wherever it is you live.

          • Actually, a lot of bocce/boules is played here in beautiful Bugtussle.

            • After i wrote my last comment several of you wanted to know if I have children who use the skate board park? I don’t. I have a 21 yr. old daughter in College of Charleston who grew up attending Westport Schools and yes she does own a skate board but its not about her. I feel passionate about it because it’s an environment that promotes comradery. Its a great way for kids to make friends with similar interest. It’s a place to go that is devoted to empowering indivuals to better themselves through skateboarding.
              As a community why would we want to tear the skate board park down? The committee wants to make it a parking lot and spend over a MILLION DOLLARS on asphalt. How is that going to enhance the children of Westport?
              I attend every meeting, I go online and read the minutes for each meeting. I know the facts. The fact is, as of today the skate board park is being torn down. We need the kids of Westport to go to Christie’s Country Deli
              161 cross Hwy. to sign the petition to keep the skate park open. I ask you to come to the meeting, bring your skate boards with you. Carry them into the meeting Sept. 29th 7:30 pm Monday night. Let your opinion be heard. Make signs. Call the press, write to your town/school papers and go to Christie’s and sign the petition ASAP. We will present the petition to the committee on Sept 29th at Town Hall 7:30 pm
              Monday Night. We need your help. If you want me to email you a copy of the petition and have your friends and family sign it, email me at
              Next step after Sept. 29th, this is going in front of the Parks & Rec. and in the past meeting’s they have expressed the same feelings as the Compo Beach Site Improvement Committee. They want the skate board park removed.
              You can write
              prdirector@westportct. gov
              and let Mr McCarthy know how you feel.
              Regarding Bocce It doesn’t take up much room. Plus it’s low in cost to build and Maintenance is minimal. Talk about all ages of Westport residents coming together to share life stories and community comradery. What a great idea.

  2. Since the park opened and enhanced over the years since, we don’t see skaters on sidewalks and streets anymore. Get ready to get out of their way and seeing the “no skate boards” signs popping up all over town! Shame….

  3. David Floyd - RTM District #4

    Rumors of the demise of the skatepark (among other things) are wildly overstated. Nothing has been decided with respect to Compo Beach. On September 29th, the public will have the opportunity to see the proposed master plans for Compo Beach AND have plenty of opportunity to have their voice heard. Voice your support and/or opposition to the individual aspects of the plans then.

    • It’s pretty clear: the proposed master plan does not include a skate park. Click here to view:

    • I wish that you were right and “Nothing had been decided with respect to Compo Beach”. That is clearly not the case. A decision was made to form a committee with the express purpose of proposing changes to facilities at Compo Beach. Once the committee was formed, momentum for changes had been put in place. The committee will proposes changes whether they are needed or not. The committee has spent taxpayer dollars on an outside consultant to develop changes the committee supports. The committee must justify itself by instituting changes, irrespective of public opinion.

      This pattern of disruption by committee can be seen in the Downtown Committee, the Baron’s South Committee, and numerous other committees that shape the character of Westport without one single vote being cast by the electorate. If you do not like the management by appointed committees approach to managing Westport, then your only choice is to fire the elected officials who appointed the committees.

      • After many years of watching “committees” ruin Westport, and run amok in many other organizations, it almost seems a futile gesture to fight the wave. Those in power do not see the real cost (its not their money) and the real effect (disrupt the silent majority) of these decisions by committee, just the relief that they did not have to make that hard decision.
        As a past member of the Youth Commission let me say that many hours of debate and review went onto planning and constructing the skate park at Compo Beach and it was an improvement, not only for the kids and the beach but also for the town.
        The new “improvement” being presented is turning the beach into something for someone else, not for the people who frequent it.

    • Mr. Floyd, I certainly hope you are correct that nothing has been decided with respect to Compo Beach, but I trust you can understand the doubt and at time raging discourse on the subject. As far as the skate park goes, if you knew me, you would know I do not use it, nor do I find it particularly attractive. Nevertheless, I see it’s value, even more so after reading this post. But your comment that we will have a chance to have our “voice heard” rings a bit shallow since all of us who attended the charrette back in December expressed our voice (just fix what needs fixing) only to be presented with a very elaborate and costly plan that in no way resembles the sentiments expressed by the people at the charrette.

  4. We just moved to Westport in July from Germany and the skateboard park has been fantastic for my 12 year old son. He didn’t know anyone when we moved here, but the kids at the skateboard park were friendly and welcoming and Eddie is great. It made our initial transition to Westport much easier (and fun). As a parent, it is wonderful to have a good role model who is also a cool skateboarder and great to have a place for my kids to go and exercise and hang out and get them out of the house when the weather is nice. Kids need as many opportunities for outdoor activity as possible these days. It would be an absolute shame to see it go…

  5. I believe that the elimination of the skate board park, along with many of the other (unnecessary) changes to Compo will have a deleterious effect on Westporters’ use of the beach. There are few enough areas of Westport which have not been “upgraded,” The so-called improvements to Compo beach being proposed by outsiders who do not have to live with the results are mostly unnecessary and not desired by the majority of Westport residents. No matter how many meetings we attend, how loudly we speak, how well-considered our opinions are, no one in charge is listening. We are surely and not so slowly losing what makes Westport a great place to live…it’s relaxed vibe.

    I agree with Ms. Herrman and Mr. Petrino completely.

  6. Jo Ann Davidson

    Keep the skate park.
    Jo Ann Davidson

  7. We all need to show up on Sept. 29th to save our beach.

    • Michelle Ludel

      Probably the most important comment in this thread… Commenting on posts is not enough, everyone needs to attend the meeting on Sep 29th!

  8. Talk about in unintended consequences…remove the skate park and watch downtown side walks and the Levitt pavilion provide a fun substitute venue. The park is an asset and to remove something that provides kids a challenging but much safer venue for both skaters and the public! No Brainer! If it ain’t broken do not fix it!

  9. I have been skateboarding for 15 years and spent the first 8 years skateboarding strictly at Compo Beach Skatepark. Skateboarding is a vital activity for a community because it gives people an opportunity to be physically active and meet new people with out the intense structure of coaches or a team. The Compo Beach Skatepark gave me a haven for me and my friends when we were very young.

    On the one hand, I can understand Westports’ initiative to improve their beach and beautify the area which would include tearing down the skatepark. The skatepark is big and bulky with ramps that do not necessarily fit the “scene” of Compo Beach.

    However, I feel that it is completely irresponsible and inconsiderate to not build a new skatepark to replace it.

    It was always my dream as a regular user of the Compo Beach Skatepark to make it better- better ramps made of concrete that allowed for fluid traveling through out the skatepark with out any cracks in the pavement or ramps in disrepair. Westport has plenty of money that could be put into a concrete skatepark that would look beautiful and be a higher functioning facility with little to no maintenance than the current one.

    The Town of Westport needs to consider, that by getting rid of a skateboarding facility they are thereby putting skateboarders on to the public streets; causing dangerous situations for the skateboarders, pedestrians and drivers.

  10. Let kids be kids. Whether they skate in a park or on the streets, they’ll be skating.
    Think more about the youth, and less on aesthetics.

  11. Jayne Mauborgne

    Well, what can we do about it? I was at the first meeting and as far as I know, everyone there was against their plan. Has something changed? Are they going ahead, even though everyone was opposed to jthe parking lots and taking away the perimeter parking? Jayne Mauborgne

  12. When is the next election?

  13. Valerie Smith-Malin

    Would someone please post the time and location of the September 29th meeting? I would like to attend. I also would like to second the comment about contacting the RTM (all members– not just your district rep) and BOF members with your feelings. It particularly annoys me that the people who can’t vote (kids) are the most affected by the loss of the skatepark.

  14. James has indeed spoken eloquently for so many kids in this town, and we need to listen. My son spent a few years there as well, and I know that it is a place where kids can safely and constructively learn skills that range from balance to cooperation to patience. The people who work there are wonderful and provide a sense of small-town community which we are quickly losing in Westport. Without the skate park, kids will still skate. My own brother was arrested in the 80’s for skating on the roof of Hillspoint School!

  15. Michelle Benner

    There is no better and more appropriate place for a skate park than at the beach. The lifeguards at Compo were collecting signatures this summer to keep the skate park; hopefully the petition will be brought to the meeting.

  16. Is it too late to sign the petition? My son used to skate board at the skate park all the time when he was younger. He was taught by Dane and Eddie and the crew. I can’t say enough about the patience and care they had for the kids. By the end of each summer the kids and instructors become a little family. They help and guide one another, cheer each other’s accomplishments and lend a hand when they fall. It’s such a wonderful experience. I couldn’t get over the camaraderie and kindness I witnessed on the ramps. Every kid should should spend some time at the Compo Skate Park.

  17. I was at the town meeting when the committee voted, this is what happened.
    Andy Moss, Skip Lane, George Franciscovich, Jennifer Johnson voted to remove the skate board park the only person on The Compo Beach Renovations Committee that voted NOT to tear it down and make it a parking lot was Chris Urist. If anyone wants a copy of the petition being used to save the skate board park please email me at
    We need the youth of Westport to get involved before it’s too late. The public meeting is being held at Town Hall Sept. 29th Monday night at 7:30pm.
    You should also know this committee wants to remove most of the parking along the perimeter at Compo Beach. By removing the parking on the sand at Compo Beach they are potentially effecting 27,000 residents of Westport who visit the beach at different times of the day/different seasons of the year. They come to reflect, eat lunch, read a book, meet family & friends to BQ, and park on the sand to watch a sunset.
    By the small amount of people that show up to the Compo Beach Renovations meeting’s we are wondering how many of you are aware of the changes being made to Compo Beach? On Sept. 29th we have seats for 275 people we hope you can join us. If you can’t attend the meeting please email First Selectman Mr Marpe and let him know your opinion.

  18. David Floyd - RTM District #4

    I agree, Mr. Woog, that the plans to not show a skate park. That does not necessarily mean the skate park (or any other particular item) will be demolished/changed/created. Personally, I have heard very few voices who want radical change. Most want (1) bathrooms at SouthBeach, (2) trails to separate walkers&bikers from cars and (3) repairs to the bathhouses/pavilion. This is the first significant outpouring specifically for the skate park I have heard (granted, the theme “Keep the Skate Park” may be buried in the “Don’t Change Anything” refrain). If anything, I have heard that the skate park is dilapidated and not ‘competitive’ with the other local skate parks–so there have been voices saying there should be an upgrade. 9/29, 7:30pm at Town Hall. Please make your voices heard and, as always, be civil to others who do not hold your view. Petitions are good, emails are good (my RTM email is ‘’), but attendance is GREAT!

    • If you read the document to which Dan has provided a link, you will see that the plan requires an expenditures of over $1,000,000 on asphalt and over $1,000,000 on boardwalk. Why do you suppose that is the case? Who will benefit from those expenditures?

      • David Floyd - RTM District #4

        Michael, I understand the proposed plan(s) do(es) not show a skate park (as I mentioned above in my first sentence). And certainly if their proposal indicates a “change”, I would expect their proposal also to address the costs related to such “change”. Not shocking. Not sure what you’re getting at with question #2. The Compo Beach Committee does their work, but merely makes a presentation and RECOMMENDATIONS to the Parks & Rec Committee & P&R Department (thus, the 9/29 meeting). This is, quite literally, about step 3 in a 10-step process.

  19. Eric Buchroeder SHS '70

    If “the skatepark is dilapidated” then isn’t the town negligent and liable to consequences if it does not maintain it properly?

  20. David Floyd - RTM District #4

    I was merely parroting what other citizens have said in prior meetings–and I am not in a position to render an opinion on the safety or physical condition. Parks and Rec is always very conscientious about safety (see Longshore trees, Ned Dimes marina repairs, etc.) and would not permit continued use of the facility if they felt it was not safe.

  21. $2 MM for paving and board walks are a lot of money to change something that isn’t necessarily broken. I can understand the desire for bathrooms and there is cold water pipes already installed to the western boat launch ramps, so that would be a reasonable improvement, but as noted, being able to turn off the roadway on to the sound has been something that would be missed. There is paved parking over by the beachhouses/lockers, so those needed a surface more stable than sand are accommodated. I imagine $2 MM could be used on projects of a higher priority and need.

    • In the master plan Dan references above, the total planed expenditures amount to $4,395,884. Of that amount $2,671,050 (60%) appears to budgeted for asphalt and boardwalk. $1,633,000 (37%) is budgeted for asphalt alone.

  22. As someone who learned to skateboard in the ’70’s and still skates occasionally, my pov is it would be shame to close this park down, nice to see kids and the occasional adult outside enjoying a physical activity that is both great exercise and a character builder vs. inside the house on video games, social networks , or watching tv…keep it open…as for those of you with nasty negative comments…go find another town to live in if this is such a big deal for you in your daily existence…ok, now I’m making negative comments…apologies in advance, I’m getting old

  23. Please attend,
    7:30 PM
    We need your support. We have 270 seats come join us and let your opinion be heard.
    Please stop in at Christies Deli and sign the petition to keep the skate park open.
    Or email we will email you a petition to print out and have your family & friends sign it. You can bring it to the meeting we will be collecting them or email it to
    We need your help.