Hidden In Plain Sight

As a member of the Parks and Recreation Commission, Steve Axthelm helps oversee our beaches, marinas, athletic facilities, pocket parks — and of course, Longshore. He’s justly proud of the many active and passive recreational opportunities Westport offers.

Yesterday he wandered over to a different facility. Sherwood Island is owned by the state — in fact, it’s Connecticut’s 1st state park — but it encompasses 232 acres of prime Westport beachfront, grasses, hills and trees.

It’s a gem many Westporters never think about. Yet it’s a wondrous spot, every day of the year.

And right now, it’s free!





(Photos/Steve Axthelm)

(Photos/Steve Axthelm)

11 responses to “Hidden In Plain Sight

  1. Michael Calise

    I am very pleased that Steve took the time to visit Sherwood Island. As a long time Recreation Commission member he has been its strongest proponent of development at Compo. Development at Sherwood Island has been kept to a bare minimum which as he demonstrates here certainly enhances its beauty.

  2. Sherwood Island is a true access to LIS and a a bit of outdoors that is to be shared by all!

  3. We put a disc golf course in last year. Beautiful park!

  4. Thanks Michael. I actually visit Sherwood Island quite often. it is so beautiful and varied that many walking routes offer sensational viewing that changes daily. Westport residents can enjoy it all year long if they bike in during the summer season. It has a multi-culty flare in in the summer with many musical styles and culinary scents in the air.

    I actually did a paper on the history, design and functionality of the facility as part of my Masters degree in Recreation and Leisure that I completed last May simply because I love this stuff! It is an interesting story of the fight against development that Westport’s own William H. Burr led (http://friendsofsherwoodisland.org/history/the-23-year-war/) and won. It came perilously close to being housing tracts.

    To your point about being a proponent of development at Compo, I find that misleading. Sherwood Island offers an interesting comparison There are ribbons of pedestrian walkways throughout the park and in no places must you walk behind parked cars to use them (http://friendsofsherwoodisland.org/main/uploads/SherwoodMap2010.pdf). There are permanent bathrooms that have been tastefully designed and conveniently located – and no Porto-Potties. The entrance and roadways are quite obviously changed (several times) from the original 1932 map (https://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://friendsofsherwoodisland.org/main/uploads/1932-SISP-propertiesmap.jpg&imgrefurl=http://friendsofsherwoodisland.org/history/&h=630&w=1005&tbnid=eFLjsRT1cp38iM:&vet=1&tbnh=134&tbnw=214&docid=nHXv8OMiTEfd4M&usg=__UWaH9ZLB2MhxGDSLuymfPzQmGP0=&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwj5tt3CgcfQAhXs6YMKHW0NBrUQ9QEIITAA). And the wonderful new pavilion, designed with respect for the previous version, is artfully modernized and includes a new 9/11 memorial. So I reject the notion that I am for “development” and embrace one that I am for thoughtful improvements, refinements and enhancements that serve good stewardship and the way Westporters use Compo today.

  5. Michael Calise

    You are correct Steve the facilities at Sherwood Island are very nice. However they are about the same in number as Compo and they are spread over a 200+ acre land mass. Also their are no sidewalks along the beach or in the picnic areas. The picnic areas have the same wooden tables that are properly maintained year after year instead of the straight from McDonalds plastic tables we have evolved to. All in all with its attractive facilities the state has managed to keep its natural ambiance. Its a park because of its sheer size but its beach is truly a beach!

  6. Steve–Thank you for sharing all your well-researched information on the history of Sherwood Island. You’ve given us all a historic treasure. I drove through the Sherwood a few days ago (hadn’t been there in years) and it is truly beautiful and unspoiled. As a daily visitor to Compo Beach, I truly appreciate that fine facility. We are so fortunate to have such caring town employees who understand the value of preserving our heritage while still being aware of today’s needs. A million thanks from a grateful citizen.

    • Thanks so much Eve! To be clear I’m not a P&R Department employee. Just a passionate volunteer on the P&R Commission.

  7. Dear Steve ….
    Sherwood Island (formerly Fox Island) has a treasured history … and is a true treasure today. Big congrats to Jim Baeschle and his team for their sensitivity to no sand replenishments and thoughtful shoreline replantings and voluntourism outreach. Special thanks to the Landscape Volunteers who spruced up our 9/11 CT Memorial Site, a place to reflect on all those lost. For brief history of Sherwood Island, Old Mill (the Seed of Westport) and Compo Cove – see: http://www.thebeautifulpond.com! — A Grateful Neighbor.