Preserving Preserve Parking

The Sherwood Mill Pond Preserve is a Westport gem.

Located on the site of the old Allen’s Clam House, on Hillspoint Road a few steps from Old Mill Beach, it’s an oasis of wetland plants, vegetative buffers and walking paths.

Painters, bird watchers, book readers, flower lovers, parents with kids, lunch breakers — all find peace and beauty there.

Hard work helped make the Sherwood Mill Pond Preserve what it is today.

Hard work helped make the Sherwood Mill Pond Preserve what it is today.

Unfortunately, they’re not the only ones who know about it.

Though the tiny parking lot is reserved for people enjoying or tending to the preserve, neighborhood and visiting cars — some very large — and trucks belonging to workers on nearby property often take up every spot.

Police occasionally ticket, but that doesn’t stop people from parking there.

That’s bad enough. What’s worse is the drivers who, when asked to move their cars, get belligerent toward the volunteers — mostly older women — who weed, water and pick up trash.

The scene below is typical. Not only were the drivers not preserve-goers — but one car parked on the paths, in the midst of the ecologically sensitive plantings.

Sherwood Mill Pond Preserve 1

This truck is pushed up against equipment used to care for the park.

Sherwood Mill Pond Preserve 2

I am fully aware that publicizing preserve parking may exacerbate — not solve — the problem. And I know that entitled parkers sometimes look upon these photos as badges of honor.

I’m posting this anyway.

Call me stupid or naive. But I truly believe that human nature is inherently good.

Particularly where Mother Nature is involved.

13 responses to “Preserving Preserve Parking

  1. Hallie Stevens

    The last time I was there it was calm and peaceful. Having dedicated my professional life to conserving nature I appreciate that there are places in Westport for those returning folks to enjoy all the good stuff. Maybe more signage might help, but I’m thankful it has been preserved

  2. 👏👏👏 What about the parking along what used to be Pisitano? 2 hour limit but people are there all day! Who’s checking?

    Sent from my iPhone


  3. Angela Ryan

    I once needed some information on Compo Beach and when I was googling it I discovered there are Yelp reviews. One of the reviews said the key was to “park in the little gravel parking lot about 1 mile down the road and walk to the beach to avoid the entrance fee”. I also saw suggestions of going to the “little beach one mile down the road where no one checks for stickers”. I know you must have a sticker to park at Old Mill Beach and in recent years you were also supposed to have a sticker to park at Sherwood Mill Preserve. I don’t know if they eliminated the sticker requirement for the Preserve when they redid it a few years ago or not. I also know that stickers are checked mostly just on weekends at Old MIll Beach and hardly ever at the preserve. I am not necessarily suggesting we invest resources to check stickers more often, but in this digital age, people know how to find out what they can get away with quite easily and having some plain-clothed person (old or young lady or man) tell them they can’t park there is probably not going to change their mind if they already know they are not supposed to!

  4. Jo Ann Davidson

    I tried to park there Thurs at 11 am to look for the osprey nest on the Mill Pond. I got into the last empty space. I think construction workers use the free parking and stay all day.

    • Angela Ryan

      I hear ya! I moved back and can go wherever I want now. When I got married at longshore 12 years ago (and wasn’t living here) my father-in-law decided to check out the beach the next day. They said the same thing “drive in, around, and come out”. He happily did. He understood and I understood. Rules are rules and it keeps the beach a little special.

  5. Nina Streitfeld

    Perhaps since money talks there could be fines for illegal parking so severe when actually collected as to discourage this practice and replace any damage to the plantings.

  6. Kathryn Coster

    My first inclination was to say the brand of the private vehicle spoke volumes of the privileged behavior…but then the commercial vehicle is just as rude and self serving…you all need to grow up and police yourself !!

  7. Sharon Paulsen

    I understand that it’s nearly impossible to find (free) parking along other affluent shorelines (Darien, Greenwich), pretty much anywhere north and south of Westport, along the CT coast).

    It was (still is?) a bone of contention for the general public in terms of access to beaches in CT (public domain?).

    Probably always will be.

    But … for this issue in Westport: Signs. Fines. Done. (Taking bow).

    Or, charge for passes to park in those small lots at Mill Beach and the old Allen’s lot. Whatever it takes? Don’t need construction peeps driving into protected landscapes, correct?

    Incidentally, I drove down to Westport a few years back (4 perhaps), in early-ish September, and decided to check out my old digs and Compo. I was surprised to see folks working at the entrance stand, ready to check stickers. I asked when they started sticker requirements after Labor Day, and I believe she told me it’s been a new rule for several years. Required until the end of September (memory is a bit fuzzy on this).

    I told her I was born, and raised, and subsequently worked in Westport for 25 years after college, and since it was a slow weekday, could I just drive through for memory’s sake? She said nope. Drive around the median and come back out right away. That was a sad (but understandable) moment for me.

    So, if an old-timer can’t catch a break, then no other out of towner’s should be able to park wherever and whenever they please either.

    (Humph – I sort of feel better … maybe).


    • Matt Murray

      Residents of Old Mill Road and Compo Cove pay each of their placards/passes and are permitted a maximum of four (two are assigned to specific cars and their license plates, and two are marked “guest” to be used as such. Residents can have their workers use the guest passes (but rarely do). Paying for those passes is like a hidden tax each year. As an FYI, those passes are not valid at Compo Beach or Burying Hill, and the regular beach passes must be purchased in addition to the Old Mill/Compo Cove passes (it’s like frosting on the cake paying for those passes, too) if we wish to take our cars into either of those facilities.

      • Sharon Paulsen

        Ah, gotcha. It’s been awhile since I was a “full timer” resident in Westport (plus, my Mom sold her place in mid-2000’s).

        We always got our Compo/Burying hill car passes each year, and assumed that mill beach parking/access was exclusive to those residences. Although I wasn’t sure – some memories are fuzzy.

        My Dad lived on mill beach for a few years, but that was back in the 1970’s, so I have no idea what the parking/pass situation was back then, as I was a tot. Perhaps it was the same?


  8. Nancy Hunter Wilson

    Don’t spend time worrying about it… Or, build a wall.

  9. Kendall Gardiner

    I think it is mostly construction workers that sit there all day.
    Worse than them parking there is the fact that they throw their trash into the pond.
    Every day it seems I am fishing out soda bottles, brown paper bags and plastic wrap.
    What is wrong with people?

    • Nancy Hunter Wilson

      Please do not assume. Please do not use words “them” “they”.
      Have you ever been wrongly accused? Or labeled?
      Sorry that garbage is a problem… garbage is everywhere. Even in the prettiest of places. It’s good that you, as do many, care to pick up litter… Just try not to let it ruin your day, rather consider it as exercise. I do!