Compo Skate Park: The Sequel

While discussion about the Compo Beach renovation plan has died down recently — the calm before another storm, perhaps — a subset of users has been quietly at work, hoping to save their beloved section of sand.

Well, asphalt.

It’s not a group known for their political activism: skateboarders.

But there’s a grassroots effort in town to save the Compo skate park. On Saturday afternoon — the final weekend of the beach’s skateboard season — they sponsored a skating party, with pizza and a DJ. The weather was fantastic, drawing luminaries like 1st Selectman Jim Marpe and Compo Beach Improvement Committee member George Franciscovich.

A small part of the big crowd of Saturday's skaters.

A small part of the big crowd of Saturday’s skaters.

The skaters will be out in force this Thursday (October 30, 7:30 p.m., Town Hall) for the next Parks and Rec Commission/Compo Beach Site Improvement Committee meeting. It’s listen-only for the audience, but they want to hear what’s in the works.

Some teenage skaters have formed their own committee. They want to present their side to town groups like Parks & Rec, the Compo Beach committee and the Westport Youth Commission. (The skate park itself was an outgrowth of a Youth Commission objective, back in the day.)

They’re figuring out how Compo’s skate park can be brought up to date to enhance its appeal and safety, and lower maintenance costs.

They’re marshaling plenty of good arguments. They’re learning how to participate in town democracy.

They may wipe out once or twice. That’s part of the process.

If so, they’ll get right back up. They hope to be standing — and skating — at the end.

The scene last Saturday.

The scene last Saturday.


13 responses to “Compo Skate Park: The Sequel

  1. Cheryl McKenna

    Admirable … I applaud this effort and I will be there watching as well.
    May I ask why it went into disrepair storm Sandy or unloved by parks and rec?
    Remember to vote for people who do their jobs well and vote out those that do not.
    Parks and rec have had the same guy Stuart McCarthy for over 25 years … Might it be time for a change?
    Think …vote local it effects you

    • First, in the interest of full disclosure, I have known Stuart since he was a kid, having been a friend of his older sister in high school and having played summer soccer with him way back in the day.

      The bottom line is, Stuart has served continuously under the administrations of both Democrats and Republicans, precisely because he is very capable and knowledgable. He is the antithesis of a political hack. I’m not sure why you feel changing the Director of Parks & Rec is the solution here. And, incidentally, I support retaining the skateboard park.

  2. I was at the skatepark last Saturday with my husband and two sons to lend our support and let my older boy skate and the younger one watch. The energy, goodwill, determination and camaraderie was palpable. And that couldn’t be more appropriate, and typical, among this group. After all, skateboarding is rare, perhaps unique, in how it unites old and young, introvert and extrovert, athletic and creative, skilled and beginner, individual and group. And in Westport, it is all that in spades thanks to the caring, nurturing, safe. and supportive environment fostered by Eddie and the young attendants. We should not only let this keep happening by retaining the skatepark. We, the Westport community should be encouraging it, supporting it, and helping it flourish. Please save the Compo skatepark.

  3. I would like to think after our last public meeting the committee and commission wants what’s best for the youth of Westport and will
    “Do the right thing” by providing the children of Westport a safe environment to skate in that is supervised and maintained?
    None of us wants to see the kids of Westport skating on Main Street or the library parking lot putting themselves in harms way.
    This is Westport we continually update our fields for kids to play football, baseball, Lacrosse, tennis, and so on, we are more then capable to provide the kids of Westport a safe environment to skate in.
    If the Town of Westport can spend $1,633,000 on asphalt 37% of the budget is being used on asphalt/broad walk, and If we have $21,000.00 to remove trees at Compo Beach that don’t need to be removed, we can rebuild Compo Beach Skate Park.
    Now if committee can only leave all the perimeter parking along Compo Beach so we can continue to watch a sunset along the waters edge, We ask the committee again, please to do the right thing.

    To the community of Westport please attend the Compo Beach development meeting this Thursday Oct.30th at 7:30pm Town Hall. We have over 200 seats waiting for concerned citizens of Westport.

    • Your request seems reasonable in the context of a “Plan” that would spend $4,395,884 of taxpayer dollars to make “improvements” to what has been described as a “jewel”. A total of $1,806,035 (41%) would be spent on paving over the “jewel” (asphalt) while an additional $1,037,250 would be spent on boardwalk facilities. A total of $2,843,285 or 65% of the total cost for improving the jewel would be spent on asphalt and boardwalk facilities. In the context of a plan that is dedicated to spending that much on asphalt and boardwalk, a skate park should not be ruled out.

  4. Our son Harry Moritz led a group of middle-schoolers about 8 years ago in a fund raiser for the park. They skated from Compo to the Skatepark to raise money and then gave the check to the head of Parks and Rec. It would be a shame that after his and others hard work that the skatepark might no longer be part of the fabric of the town.

  5. Sylvia Robinson Corrigan

    The real shame would be if skateboarders had no choice but to return to skateboarding downtown or on the streets or sidewalks. Why not keep it fun and safe for everyone?

  6. Pave paradise put up a parking lot: NOT over the skateboard park, at. Compo Beach. Like the basketball courts install night LIGHTS.

  7. sarah W. Kennedy

    Message: Our best accomplishments in this town should be our children, for they are our future. At the last save compo beach meeting , all ages of kids spoke on the importance of the skateboard Park and what it had meant to them. One gets the feeling from the committee that the skate board park has to go or be moved to another site. Perhaps it is not sophisticated enough for the grand plans of the soon to be Westport Park. A top notch beach /park does not make for a good community , our kids do. I say save the skate board Park and keep it at compo!
    Sarah Kennedy

  8. I am filled with gratitude and hope this morning, after reading Dan’s article and the comments that follow. I really believe we can save the skate park AND improve it to a standard of which Westport can be proud. More importantly to me, though, is that I want my kids and their friends to have a safe place to enjoy their sport. The Compo Skate Park (at compo beach and nowhere else!) has seen young kids with barely any balance turn into top-notch skaters with amazing skill and athletic ability. It has also seen kids that don’t feel comfortable in the typical and competitive team sport environment flourish with an activity they can enjoy without the pressure of making varsity. My first experience with the park was two years ago when I brought my oldest son to try it out. I was astonished at the maturity of all the other skaters. “Here, try my board.” “Let me show you how to ollie.” “You’re doing great – come back next week, okay?” Now, this is all my son wants to do.

    • Cheryl McKenna

      This is an admirable and worthy fight come to P and Z tonight or watch on TV.
      I maintain it is very important to see who is in power locally and to VOTE !
      These things matter and our lovely town thrives because of people like you and your son that participate.

  9. Speaking of the beach … Why all those boulders being dumped in center near south beach? Was anything approved yet ??

  10. Michael Scherer

    The kids at the skatepark are very inclusive with one another. They’ll generally move around in one or more groups, spending time in one area before drifting over to another. And the nature of the activity is not constant motion, but rather taking turns on an element irrespective of skill, age, gender or personality. This results in each participant feeling welcomed and encouraged. It’s a wonderful thing, particularly with school-aged children, for an activity to blend everyone in such a manner. And the instructors are key to this environment. I applaud Westport for taking the approach of a fully-staffed park, inclusive of a daily use fee to help cover costs. My 9-year old son looks up to the instructors and to the other older kids who use the park. I think the socialization benefits everyone in ways they likely can’t obtain at school or with most other activities.

    Shouldn’t our town be embracing, not reducing, safe and empowering recreational choices for its children. Does the town really want to eliminate an environment that keeps skaters and roller-bladers off the streets and downtown areas? Do we as a society really want to reduce unstructured activities that encourage our children to be outdoors, creative, active and away from additional “screen time”?

    I too believe Westport’s skatepark should remain at Compo Beach as its safe, healthy environment is reinforced by its inclusion within the broader, family-oriented beach area. And the kids really enjoy being able to join the rest of what Compo Beach offers, take a break and head over to Joey’s, etc. But the skatepark is out of date and requires constant repairs. It should be upgraded with poured concrete which, if designed as other communities have done, would be more attractive for the town, safer and more desirable, and would require very little maintenance. If not at its present location, there are grassy areas at Compo Beach that are either under-utilized or entirely unused (except by geese!).