Parks & Rec Commission: “We Heard Public’s Beach Comments Loud And Clear”

A large crowd flooded into Town Hall tonight. A number of Westporters were ready to fight for parts of Compo Beach they believed were threatened: parking on South Beach. Keeping grassy spaces. The skate park.

What they got was Kumbaya.

Parks and Recreation Commission chair Charlie Haberstroh introduced 7 recommendations. None were earth-shattering. All seemed to come directly from raucous town meetings last year.

The basic theme: Less is more.

Here they are:

1.  No changes to South Beach and eastern area parking. 

“We heard the message loud and clear,” Haberstroh said. “It’s important to keep parking near the beach.” He noted that commissioners had parked near the proposed spaces away from the beach, and realized the view was not the same.

No changes will be made to South Beach parking. (Photo/Laurey Tussing)

No changes will be made to South Beach parking. (Photo/Laurey Tussing)

2. No changes to vehicular traffic flow.

The Compo Beach Site Improvement Committee had recommended moving the entrance to across from Bradley Street. Haberstroh said no changes would be made.

Parks and Rec director Stuart McCarthy noted that traffic flow — and safety issues — are the #1 priority for his department. After he spoke, Haberstroh agreed that fixing the current entrance (though not relocating it) could be addressed outside of the master plan.

3.  Create separate pedestrian paths separate from vehicular traffic. 

Haberstroh noted that, as a new grandfather, he feels vulnerable pushing a stroller. Other commissioners added that beach usage has changed; more people are walking than ever before. Extending the boardwalk to the cannons, and on to South Beach, is one way to help ease danger.

Compo Beach: a town jewel, beloved by all.

Compo Beach: a town jewel, beloved by all. Pedestrians don’t always have it easy, however.

4.  Constructing new bathhouses.

The current brick bathhouses were badly damaged by Hurricane Sandy. A new structure would meet — or exceed — FEMA flood regulations.

5.  Adding restrooms on South Beach. But no pavilion. New facilities are sorely needed — 2 or 3 “fixtures” per men’s, women’s and family bathrooms, to use the polite term. But there would be no other structures. “They take on a life of their own,” Haberstroh said.

6.  Renovating the skate park, including possible partial private funding. This is also a recommendation that came directly from the fall meeting. The commissioners heard many Westport youngsters loud and clear.

7.  Resurfacing the basketball courts.  That’s a slam dunk.

A few minutes after 8 p.m., public comment began.

There were no catcalls, boos, cheers, whistles or shouts.

It was almost as quiet as the beach in winter.

Everyone loves Compo Beach. (Photo/Stacy Waldman Bass)

Everyone loves Compo Beach. (Photo/Stacy Waldman Bass)

11 responses to “Parks & Rec Commission: “We Heard Public’s Beach Comments Loud And Clear”

  1. Bravo Charlie !!!

  2. This is great. Yet another example of the people speaking their minds in the name of preserving what is great about Westport. This new proposal sounds like a great compromise in keeping what had made Compo the jewel that it is, while addressing certain upgrades that do not detract from these things. I love the idea of a safer walking lane along South Beach as well as some understated bathroom facilities (other than porta-potties). And BRAVO! to not relocating the entrance or eliminating the beachfront parking. Well done!

  3. Wendy Cusick

    HOORAY!!
    A bunch of us have been watching and listening in Norwalk. Discussing it with various Westporters I know and our Local Norwalkers that run Westport business. We all want to Keep It Simple and Keep the Fantastic View. Compo Beach is Beautiful As It Is.
    As To Quote Jon Brandt:”Just Need To Buff and Polish The Gem!”
    Wendy Cusick

  4. Tom Turnbull

    One of my favorite shows on PBS, “Last of the Summer Wine” has a character named “Compo.”. Also beloved by all!

    Sent from my iPhone

  5. The people have spoken. And Parks and Rec. listened. Thank God.

  6. Roberta Tager

    Sounds good to me!

  7. Bart Shuldman

    Thank you. Great job listening to the town residents. Thank you.

  8. Michael Calise

    An even and steady hand has returned to our Parks and Re Commission many thanks to Jim Marpe and Charlie Haberstroh for their leadership.

  9. Beth Goldstein

    April Fools? Or for real?

  10. Tracy Flood

    Plop, plop, fizz, fizz, oh what a relief it is!!!!!

    I know – I’m dating myself. I am doing a happy dance! This is great news!!!!