$35 For Out-Of-Towners

I love so many things about Compo Beach.

The sunrises and sunsets.

The wide variety of things to do: Swim. Walk. Jog. Bike. Sail. Kayak. Fish. Eat at Joey’s. Enjoy a picnic. Play basketball, soccer, pickleball or at the playground. Explore the jetty. Worship. Get married. Read. Nap.

I also love the wide variety of people. Foreign languages abound. So do out-of-state license plates, and plenty of folks who look nothing like “typical” Westporters.

There are 2 main reasons, I think, for the large rise in out-of-towners at Compo over the past few years. Sherwood Island banned alcohol, and we now appear online — I’m not sure where — as a welcoming alternative for families searching for a fun, relatively inexpensive day at the beach.

I am well aware that some residents don’t share my joy at sharing Compo with non-residents.

A recent Facebook posting — on a Westport/Fairfield group — was strong and direct. It read:

What is your view on the compo beach situation with out of town cars/people?

The fee they pay is very minimal, $35 week day and $50 on weekends per car. On several occasions the beach has been closed because they were at max capacity. My question is this…

Can we raise the fee that they pay? Maybe $75 per car? More on weekends?

The line of cars waiting to get into Compo Beach can be long.

Also what does the town do with the money they receive? Does it go towards our beaches?

Can we have a system set up like Greenwich where they go to Town Hall and purchase their pass during the week for the weekends? This would eliminate the crazy line of traffic that we see every weekend.

I’d like to see a police officer paid to patrol our beach. Years ago there was always an officer stationed at the beach especially on the weekends. I know due to budget constraints it was eliminated but I’d like to bring that back, especially with the crowds that are developing at Compo.

Welcome to Compo!

And finally I’d like to get a petition going to see how many are on board? I’ve spoken to and overheard many people at compo about their frustrations with parking and so on because of all the NY plates. They are all on board.

Just wanted to get your thoughts?

There were 100 comments. Many — though not all — agreed with the poster.

There were references to too many cars, and too many people being dropped off by Uber; litter, and overcrowding.

“We have a state park in town,” one person wrote. “Out of towners should go there.”

When the comments got out of hand, the post was removed.

Lisa Sabino — the alert “06880” reader who sent me the link — called many of the comments “heartbreaking.” She added:

I don’t believe they are truly representative of the people in this town.

By raising prices, we have to really think about who exactly we are keeping off our beach. I think the simple answer is ‘outsiders.’ People who are from other communities, lower income brackets, and who we see as less than us.

This town could do with some  more economic, social and racial diversity. That is not going to happen by raising the cost of spending the day at our exclusive beach.

There is plenty of antisocial, illegal and rowdy behavior caused by Westporters. As much as I dislike it, dealing with it is a natural part of going out in public places.

Westporters — not out-of-towners — aggressively reserve spots for the fireworks.

This is certainly a fraught subject. It involves issues of crowding, noise, access to picnic tables and grills — and race, class and money.

Frankly, I’m surprised no one has emailed me about this before. It’s been one of the hot topics every summer for the past few years.

What do you think? Do you agree with the Facebook post, or the woman who contacted me about it? Are you — like some Westporters — conflicted?

Click “Comments” below. Let this important conversation begin!

Whose beach is it, anyway? (Photo/Tom Cook)

99 responses to “$35 For Out-Of-Towners

  1. Conflicted indeed. But there must be a way to handle increased demand for beach time. We do to make special events safe and available at other venues all over town. Raising the daily fee isn’t a solution that reduces demand. It simply cuts out those who can’t afford it. That’s not the Westport way.

    Let’s put it to the Parks and Rec managers of the facility and task them with solving this dilemma without infringing on either Westporters’ or out-of-towners’ enjoyment of our most precious year-round jewel. Setting maximum thresholds for safe attendance on peak days sounds like a good starting point.

    • If you don’t think raising fees is “the Westport Way” I suggest you check out the Westport Continuing Education catalog. It’s full of expensive classes using town facilities and minimally paid instructors. Among the offerings are a kid’s group tennis lessons on town courts with a college student instructor is $40 an hour. If there’s one thing that a community should offer, it’s inexpensive learning. – Chris Woods

    • Michele Coppotelli

      I am going to say something that may raise hair on the back of some necks. However I would be surprised if this is not the true sentiment of the silent majority of Westporters.
      Westport residents pay a small annual fee to park in Compo Beach. However, we paid a huge real estate fee (many $1M or more) to live in Westport. On of the things that attracted us to Westport is Compo Beach.
      The objective was to have a close by well kept beach that we could easily drive into (without traffic jams) and find a spacious place on the beach to enjoy our day or evening.
      Whatever it takes to have that expensive piece of luxury back it is worth it.
      Westporters should have priority parking, grills, locations on the beach.

      • Bart Shuldman

        Michelle–I will not be part of the silent majority and instead come out and say I like what you wrote. Westporters should come first.

        However we do need to understand the cause and magnitude of the problem, if there is a problem. While some wanted to rush into starting a major IT project, I know we can trust Charlie to guide us along and inform us more.

  2. Beth Berkowitz

    There are many cars that are owned/leased by Westporters/Westonites and not out of towners that just aren’t registered at their WESTPORT addresses. Therefore, some of the cars with NY plates could be registered to a Westporter’s business or a company car. We also have many people from NYC that rent a WESTPORT house for a month or more during the summer beach season who could be using the beach while they are renting. Therefore increasing the daily parking fee could impact many westporters adversely in a number of ways. There are probably a number of people taking an uber and being dropped off from a WESTPORT house or the train station, as I know my daughter and her friends will do at times, since we don’t get a beach sticker for the car she drives and she did this before she had a car, unless we were able to lend her one of our cars. Since Westporters pay $40 for the season and the daily rate for all cars is already $35/weekdays and more on the weekends, I think we are already charging “outsiders” a lot more, even if they live in Westport, year round or part-time. In you live in Weston, then the season’s parking emblem is already over $200, so are you trying to make it so these “outsiders” also find it cost prohibitive to come to the beach occasionally? Some people only go to the beach at Compo 1-3 times a season, so if they are “local”, but their cars aren’t registered in Westport, it often doesn’t pay for them to try to get a season parking emblem for $200 or more. If they go 4 times or more for the season on weekends only, it starts to make some “cents” to obtain a season pass. Otherwise, it doesn’t.

    However, there may be a good suggestion to being able to obtain a few daily passes prior to heading to Compo in order to cut down on the traffic getting into the lots.

    I also am curious how the money collected is allocated by the town. Also, note that the Fairfield town beaches are much less expensive already to park at for “out of towners”, both daily and for season parking emblems.

    • When I applied for a beach pass in town, I had to re-register my car in Westport (I was registered in Darien). It is my understanding you must have a CT plate and be on the Westport town tax roll with the car that is requesting the pass. Otherwise, you have to pay the day rate. If I’m wrong, my apologies, but at the time (2014) my husband and I both had to go re-register our cars to get our passes.

      • David J. Loffredo

        Only if you are trying to qualify as a WESTPORT resident. If you are a WESTON resident you can get a pass for $250, and if you live anywhere on the planet and are one of the first 600 to apply you can also get pass for $490. It’s all on the town website.

  3. Julie shapiro

    I am also conflicted – love the diversity but as a Westport tax payer I hate when I can’t find a parking place or a picnic table. I agree that we cannot raise the price because that leaves those less advantaged economically without the beautiful beaches. How about putting a limit on non resident cars for the area. If people come after the limit is filled they can be rerouted to Sherwood island. Perhaps those out of Townes could buy passes on line in advance – make a reservation and when the limit is filled that’s it. Don’t leave the diversity o and out of Townes out just limit it

    • Kristin Govoni

      I agree with Julie’s point above. A limit to the out of town cars and a reroute to Sherwood Island when Compo is full is a reasonable suggestion. This is is not about race – we have all debated the frustration of the “out of towners” that get parking passes at the Westport train station and how that can create a 4-5 year waiting list for Westport residents.
      I do not believe this is a race issue – just a space issue!

      • Bobbi Essagof

        If we are voting I vote for Julie’s plan. There should always be room for Wesporters and a limit on day passes. I also think we should reduce the fee for Weston residents. It’s always Westport-Weston in my mind and it would be the neighborly thing to do.

        • Susan Reilly

          Weston residents pay a much larger amount for their beach passes and I, too, feel that the two towns are connected in many ways. I doubt that is the problem but we should look at all aspects before making a decision on what to do about the problem. We just need to acknowledge that there is a problem.

    • Well put, and a good suggestion/compromise. Julie’s plan has my vote!

    • Werner Liepolt

      It’s my impression that on summer weekends the rerouting is the other way. Sherwood Island is full by 10am then overflow cars try to get into Compo.

      The state’s fees are different for Ct registered cars and out of state vehicles.

  4. Lisa Marriott

    Thank you Dan for your response to yesterdays post on Facebook. The reality is we have a wonderful beach and place to be on a sunny day, and it should be available to all. The fees charged are not inexpensive to everyone. Take that $50 and multiply it weekly for the summer (and throw in a week day trip). So much of what was being discussed and attributed to Out of Towners was just not true. Garbage, bad behavior, etc. As I mentioned, have them come and take a look at SHS cafeteria any day of the week to see the mess left on tables. If you raise the fees, people will still be able to come to the beach. As it is, it is less expensive to park at our FREE train parking on the weekend and take a very inexpensive Uber with your family to the beach and come in FREE, cutting the revenue received by the Town of Westport which certainly helps Parks and Rec with expenses. And please, the last thing we need is police presence on our beaches. I would just like to say THANKS to all of the great people working for Parks and Rec this summer for the job they are doing!

  5. Dominique Dwor-Frecaut

    Mmmm…. a bit of social diversity wouldn’t hurt Wesport. And $50 doesn’t strike me as low

  6. I rarely voice my opinion but has to when it came to Compo. I’m a second generation “Westport towny.” I enjoy bringing my 98 year old Dad to Compo Beach and he loves sitting in the car to see the waterfront. There have been multiple times this year that we couldn’t park our car. I think out of town and more specifically out of state visitors should be limited. Please Parks and recreation consider limiting out of state visitors to Soundview parking lot only!! Out of town CT resident passes should be capped at a safe number. Please

    • I agree, Ann.

      • I also agree with Ann. As a mother with young children, it is frustrating to get to the beach around lunchtime (not unreasonable) and realize that although I chose to live in Westport and pay taxes in a coastal town in part because I wanted to have beach access where I live, yet I’m line for 30 minutes to get into the beach and then may not even find parking in the main lot (while I gaze at the closest spots all filled with orange NY plates). Many of us chose this town because it is a beach community, and I do feel residents should take priority – regardless of race or anything else. This is about our tax dollars in our town and nothing more.

        • Susan Reilly

          Well said!! I agree 100%. We really need to do something so the beach stays an important part of why people live here. This is not a race issue! We can welcome all but just need to get a better system so the residents (who do pay the taxes ) are not penalized!

  7. Roberta Tager

    Thank you for this totally important article. Compo Beach needs financial assistance..it is our “gem” which is still needing some polish.
    I am for raising fees for unstickered cars.

  8. Follow up to my previous comment.,,I have found the Parks and Recreation employees this year to be the very best kind polite folks. Hats off to them for their patience and respectful support

  9. Mary Ann West

    Back in the early 60’s we out-of-towner families would visit Compo (and Sherwood Isl.) for a day of fun and sun. As I recall, we always had to park at the smaller lot and walk across the street.

    “Those” people, including my family, would also stop for a meal (Clam Box) or shop (Franklin Simon), do whatever errands needed to be done before heading back home with fond memories of Westport.

    Some of us even returned as adults, becoming Westport residents.

  10. I would hate to punish people for not living in Westport. I appreciate the diversity. Westport needs more of it. I feel the issue isn’t simply space but respect for the beach itself. The trash situation has gotten out of hand. I’ve seen towels and bathing suits left on the floor in the locker area for days. Toilet paper strewn all over the floor by inconsiderate teens. These things aren’t limited to out of towners coming to Compo. And I know that this isn’t part of the dialogue – but Westporters saving space for the “4th” of July has gotten completely out of control. I loath it when a parent goes to a school function ( a play or performance ) and saves an entire row for family and friends. Thus icing out the people who arrived earlier. I find this to be the same type of behavior that occurs every “4th” of July. We always arrive early and spend the day – so I’m not talking about how it affects my family. I just feel so bad for the families who have arrived with everything in tow and can’t find a spot because other people have marked their territory. It’s unfair. And I feel it’s a reflection of an entitled point of view that is contributing to this initial post.

  11. Alan Phillips

    This does not sound like a diversity issue. This sounds like an overcrowding issue. I never realized how many cars fill our lots on weekends.
    Simple solution is to raise the fee for each car. We will probably receive similar revenue. Or perhaps a tad more…. but less crowding.

  12. Personally, I feel that there should be a higher fee for out of state visitors, so that our neighbors and friends in Connecticut can enjoy our beach. While I know it is a for-profit company, Joey’s could also raise their prices on beach chair and umbrella rentals for out of state visitors, to help ease up the strain on the beach. Out of state (and out of town) cars could also be limited to the Soundview lot, as I know was mentioned by someone else in a previous comment.

    The other issue that I think is making Compo a worse place to visit is all the litter. On a recent walk from the boat launch by the marina to the jetty by the cannons, I noticed everything from t-shirts to glass bottles to corona cans, and plenty of food on south beach. (if you want pictures of some of the trash that I found, contact me, I would be happy to send them to you There is more than one might expect.) This not only makes Compo a dirtier place to go, but also more dangerous, as toddlers and broken glass from bottles do not go together well. It infuriates me that visitors, Westporters and out of towners, would not go the extra step to throw their trash out at a proper location. While I know there are not many trash cans around the beach, there are some, and that number can easily be increased. Increasing the number of trash cans would make it easier for patrons to throw out their food and other garbage, instead of littering. I also think that there can be more frequent enforcement and reinforcement to throw out waste by the Parks and Recreation golf utility cart that I see going around Compo. There could even be a fine imposed on littering, and for more frequent litters, possible eviction from the beach for a week or something like that. There is a fine (around $200 I believe) in the rest of Westport, so why not at the place that we all cherish? Imposing these fines and increasing the number of trash cans in the first place would not only make Compo a better and safer place to visit, but it would also be a safer place for the many sea creatures that we love to watch in the waters. Compo is a great place, and with these simple steps we can make it better.

    • Denise Torve

      Before using the Soundview lot for out of towners, please know that many of us whose children have moved away use that lot exclusively. I don’t park near the playground, Joey’s or the picnic tables. Soundview provides ready access to the quieter area our seniors enjoy.

  13. Susan Reilly

    I agree with the first post. I think Compo beach is a special part of Westport and a main reason many of us moved here. The residents pay the taxes and should have full access to the beach. Most residents come for a few hours vs setting up for the day. Last weekend there were so many tents and , yes, even barbecues on the main beach, that it looked like any public beach. I don’t think that is fair to residents. Many out of towners come fur the entire day and set up accordingly. It puts a great stress on a relatively small beach facility.
    I do think perhaps raising the price, having some enforceable restrictions (not by the lifeguards who are only kids) , and maybe selling the stickers off site would help.
    The beach ishould be primarily for residents as far as I’m concerned.

  14. We typically go to Compo late in the day and have not noticed any major change in the number of people at that time of day nor have we had any problems parking at that hour.

    My wife notices out-of-state plates–it’s something she has done since she was a kid and played a game in the back seat of her family’s car on the highway counting as many different state license plates as she could. (We all have our quirks, right?)

    In any case, what she finds fascinating are some of the plates she not infrequently notices that are from states quite far from here (and I’m not talking about Florida).

    Maybe one of the attractions is revealed in the following: not long ago visitors from Massachusetts–a high school kid and his mom–asked my wife if she lives here. When she replied yes, they asked if she knew where the famous people in town lived.
    They wanted to take a drive and see the sights.

    Dan, you’ll be very happy to know that Debbie did not give out your home address and instead directed the out-of-towners to Beachside Avenue. (Sorry Harvey, but I was not present for this.)

  15. Leave the price as is. Town should be more clear about where the money collected goes. I’d simply have a limit of non-Westport passes per day. The town has the day pass data and knows when they are 100% full. Should be straightforward to select a cap while maximizing the $ collected. Westport residents should get priority. We are all paying the taxes that ultimately fund the town services used to operate the beach. All for diversity, etc. but residents should be able to enter the parking lot 99.99% of the time.
    Cutting the line could also be straightforward. Setup an online pass purchase which the buyer prints or shows on their phone. Keeps the line moving and eliminates all the cash collection at the gate. For those who don’t buy in advance, add a $10 fee which will hopefully encourage better pre-purchasing behavior on the next trip. My suggestions could be implemented quickly and cheaply, and I know they’d be helpful vs. the current system and process.

  16. Deborah Johnson

    I agree with Susan Reilly.
    This is not a big beach and the parking has become a problem. By letting so many out-of-towers in is keeping residents away.
    I have lived in Westport my entire life and main feature that I cannot separate myself from is our lovely beach.
    I am self employed and love that I can take an hour break and will be on the beach in 7 min. to relax. However. This summer I’ve only spent 2 visits to Compo, because of the long line at the entrance. I spent too much time waiting to get in.
    How did we ever let it get this bad? There has to be a limit

  17. Diana Schuster

    We as “Westporters” are very welcoming. However….. I should not be turned away due to capacity when I pull in with my LOCAL beach sticker. That’s not right…. that parking lot can hold our “town”. Sad that we have a beautiful 4th of July show and some of us run far away!!

  18. Arline Gertzoff

    The issue at Compo Beach has nothing to do with diversity as has already been stated. Advance tickets is a good idea.Many summer rentals come with a beach sticker.When the non-resident lot is full it’s full .A Compo Beach app can be created so people know in advance.An auxiliary police officer on duty would help.They can get backup very quickly.I doubt much can be done about Uber drop offs unless we want to turn it into a court case? Raising the car fees is also a reasonable idea. As far as those wanting to turn it into a diversity issue visit the surrounding towns to find your diversity .Mygoing to Compo began in a stroller in 1947. Finally a few more trash cans for the bottle pickers could be useful

  19. We have a State beach….Sherwood Island… with liquor or not….Compo is a town beach….for the residents who live here….I have owned our “beach house” on Fairfield beach sine l981 walking distance to Fairfield public beach and have never seen the problem we have with overload at Compo. Charge more; limit number of out of town passes sold each year, etc. but please don’t make it something that shouldn’t play into it….diversity. You either live here or not and/or make the cut on the amount of out of town passes sold. They should be expensive….it is expensive to live here to get this perks. Keep it simple.

  20. Bart Shuldman

    Dan. Since Westport taxpayers fund our beaches, maybe a good solution is to limit how many out of towners can go to Compo. If parking can hold 500 cars, as an example, maybe limit out of town cars to the first 50 or 75 cars. Then shut down the entry unless from Westport. This would allow out of town residents to use Compo but would hopefully insure that no Westport resident is turned away.

    Just a thought.

  21. Elaine Marino

    I bet Parks and Rec has data on hand that can be used to solve this issue. For example, P & R could identify the days in July 2017 when the parking lot was filled to capacity and the number of out of town passes sold on each “capacity” day. From there, P & R could set a limit for the number of out of town passes to be sold each day, and adjust the numbers as necessary.

    • I’m glad you brought up data that Parks and Rec might have because I would be curious to know how many days the beach has been at max capacity with people turned away. While my wife and I generally do not use the beach toward the end of the day ( where we have not noticed any major changes), I do drive by the beach coming home on errands during the day and, quite frankly, I have rarely seen an enormous line like the one in the picture above, Also, the beach does not seem any more packed than in the past when I drive on Soundview. What data exists to support the notion that local residents are being turned away? Thanks.

  22. Thomas Duquette

    As a former Westporter (3rd generation) who worked my summer’s off from college as a Parks & Rec beach guard (mostly at Compo and Old Mill) I’ll weigh in on this topic. Folks who are fortunate enough to live in Westport and pay the taxes that support the infrastructure including our beaches have earned their place at the front of the line. As far back as the 60’s there have always been more who want in than there are spaces for them to occupy- and the 4th of July “reservation” problem existed even then. I’m surprised that the fee is only $35, that’s about what we were charging in the early 80’s as I recall…time for an increase! $35 was a lot of money back then and it did serve as a deterrent to a good number of out of state tags trying to get in. I agree with others who have suggested an on-line or app based out of town day pass sale concept to help keep the line moving at the entrance vs. doing point of service sales by the guards. Also capping the number of day passes would be a great management tool. No question the beaches are town “jewels” and residents should have priority access. I don’t see this as a “diversity” issue.

  23. Prices should be raised…numbers limited…specific out of town parking area set aside (not soundview lot where elderly and young families park for less crowded beach area). It’s simple…do it!

  24. Jens Buettner

    Technically speaking I’m an out of town person, as I live in Weston. The residents of Weston are eligible for a beach sticker. The yearly price for the beach sticker is $250 !!! compared to $35 for Westporters.
    Taking in consideration that 90% of Weston residents go to Westport for shopping, dining or other events and we spend our money in that town, which generates income and taxes for Westport, I think this is a ridiculously high price for the beach sticker.
    I think the beach sticker should be offered for Weston residents at the same price as for Westport residents.

    • Don’t follow the logic here. Weston has been granted “sister rights” for Westport town facilities. That’s great. But shopping and spending $ in Westport, just like many other towns’ people, shouldn’t justify a comparison to actual Wepo residents who actually pay the taxes and real estate prices that help keep the town running.

      • Bart Shuldman

        Where else is Weston people going to do their shoppping. They decided not to allow commercial development. Be glad we have expanded ours!!!!

    • Denise Torve

      I disagree. You receive goods and services for the money you spend when you come to Westport. The same should apply to Compo beach as you do not live here and therefore do not pay taxes to the town. $250 for a season pass is not that costly, but if it is, there’s always Sherwood Island Beach.

  25. If Sherwood Island, a much larger (and better) beach is now emptier why is this even a discussion – go where they aren’t. An annual pass costs $67 or free to seniors.

    • It all comes down to alcohol. Prohibited at Sherwood Island. That drove the move of so many to Compo, I am told.

      • Peter Barlow

        Ban alcohol at Compo. That’s a start. Then ban smoking. At Watch Hill police in plain beach wear arrest dozens of people for drugs and alcohol.
        The traffic at Compo is hardly unique. Every Saturday around 9 AM there is bumper to bumper traffic from eastern Connecticut to Misquamicut, the
        Rhode Island State Beach, for 7 miles.

        • Jens Buettner

          You have to think further then drunk, pot smoking people on the beach. That would also mean goodbye to the nice evenings watching a sunset with a nice glass of wine, some cheese and baguette at the end of the day and just chilling out or dinners with friends on the beach in the bbq area,
          isn’t that part of combo life style?

          • According to the rules you can only have alcohol at South Beach. When I was a lifeguard at Compo we enforced the alcohol ban on the front beach sort of selectively. If it was in a cup, people were behaving and it was not obvious you were left alone. Totally banning alcohol at Sherwood Island was a good move by the State. In the “old days” probably 90% of the problems there from fights to drownings had to do with alcohol.

  26. I moved here 40 years ago, as a 10 year old. Since then the beach has indeed transformed into a crowding issue which needs to be dealt with, while maintaining Westport’s welcoming character. To share and hear solutions, come to the beach Pavilion this Friday, 5:30-7, for “Candidates at Compo” to discuss! Also check out Melissa Kane’s plan: http://melissaforwestport.org/compo

    • Bart Shuldman

      Darcy–any idea the cost to implement the app we don’t have in a westport? Any idea how Westport will implement this immediately? Any idea if someone can duplicate this so called pass? Any idea if the pass is on their mobile phone someone can easily see it to insure the person has a real pass? Will we need bar code scanners to insure we close the loop on someone purchasing the exact day pass? Any costs for all this?

      This clearly shows that Melissa Kane is not in tune to the workings of Westport. She has never sat on a finance board or any other major board in Westport.

      We don’t need a “rookie” right now as Westport has to deal with the state fiscal crisis.

      2. Require out-of-towners to buy their tickets in advance, with the opportunity to do so via an app in addition to through the Parks & Rec website and office, thus eliminating the current long lines at the entrance caused by people buying tickets on-site. Those who have bought tickets would simply wave their passes (on paper or on a mobile phone app) and pass through quickly.

    • Darcy this must be a typo. You mean you moved here 40 years ago as a -10 year old, right? 🙂

  27. Nancy Hunter

    Pardon my naïveté, but I don’t understand how beach-going is a “race issue”. Saddening.

  28. I loved this part of the posting “The fee they pay is very minimal, $35 week day and $50 on weekends per car.”

    Fifty bucks minimal ? Ask a school teacher, grad student, postal worker or someone on social security .
    ADW Staples 1956

    • David, with all due respect, many cars purchasing a $50 weekend pass contain 4-5 people making the individual cost $10-12 for the day. That is indeed minimal. Perhaps, to that end, we increase the day passes to be purchased per individual and not per carload.

  29. I would wonder if it’s an issue of more people or more cars with less people. I remember Bob Yovan (who I think ran the beach in the late 50’s-early 60’s?) telling me that the beach on a weekend would be packed with way more people than in the early 1990s. I guess in the old days without air conditioning the beach was the place to go to get cool.

    • There are tons of people. Of course, there are also people now erecting pup tents, lean-tos and other space-filling mini-homes, which adds to the density.

      • Werner Liepolt

        A tent city is what Compo looks like every weekend. How do lifeguards see over these structures? Who knows what illegalities take place within them? Any temporary structure bigger than a beach umbrella is too big for a beach like ours. And can anything be done about the noxious reek of lighter fluid/sun tan lotion?

  30. Peter Barlow

    I’m surprised that in 40 responses no one has mentioned the marina as part of Compo. This is a major part of Compo and years ago a large chunk of the beach was removed to enlarge the harbor. Later the harbor was made into a marina with many more slips and docks. In my last years in Westport it was getting hard to get to my boat or even into the beach – one of several reasons I’m not there anymore. But it’s a marvelous marina, protected on all four sides and just moments from open water. I had boats at that harbor for 52 years – now my boat is at Mason’s Island Marina in Mystic.

  31. 1. Ban all glass from the beach. Wine can be decanted into something non-breakable and insulated. Glass vessels/containers will be seized and the person fined.
    2. Set up a taxi/uber designated dropoff and all people arriving this way need to purchase a daypass for $12-15/person, as Long Beach LI does.
    3. Increase daily rate for out-of-towners in cars and put a cap on the number allowed in daily/weekends. They need to have the day pass before getting on line. Maybe post a sign to this effect near Gray’s Creek. Perhaps people without a season sticker should be directed to Burying Hill Beach instead of Compo.
    4. Enforce fines for littering and increase the number of trash cans, if needed. Or, if someone litters, make them do beach cleanup as community service for each offense. There is no excuse for littering whatsoever.
    5. Just forbid anyone from “reserving” space on the beach, even for the 4th of July fireworks.
    6. No tents on the beach. This isn’t the Caribbean. And, setting up a tent obscures other people’s right to enjoy the openness of the beach.

    Sheesh, some of this is just common sense. No debate needed. People who live in the town, pay taxes here and buy beach stickers should have first dibs on the beach at all times. This isn’t a state-owned beach.

  32. Missy Targowski

    Maybe the marina could be a designated area for boaters? That’s my only gripe. I do end up on the boat but it does takes a little longer to haul our food, kids, etc after we drive around (park really far from the docks) to find a spot.
    Not a huge deal. But we pay for the summer handpass, beach sticker and the season for boating. It adds up. We would like to be able to utilize and enjoy all without too much hassle.

  33. David J. Loffredo

    This thread is about as fact-free as the Facebook post.

    Here are facts:

    1) Unlike most towns (Greenwich / Fairfield) – Westport for whatever reason (like only Norwalk as far as I can tell) has decided to sell an unlimited number of non-resident beach passes. So those cars you see taking up your parking spot may not be Westport tax payers. If you look at the town website:

    http://www.westportct.gov/index.aspx?page=301 we sell an unlimited number of $250 stickers to WESTON residents (for the life of me I have no idea why), and 600 stickers to anyone with $490 in their pocket.

    2) $50 for day parking on the weekend is commensurate with other towns, I don’t think an extra $10 or $20 is going to change behavior.

    What would be great is if someone could gather actual facts and share:

    a) How many Weston passes have been issued this year
    b) How many of the 600 other passes have been issued
    c) On average and at Peak – how many day passes

    Then you can choose which battle to fight – my guess is that it’s not with the cars with NY Plates and focusing on them seems a little bit racist IMHO.

  34. Lauren Karpf

    It is also worth noting that the many season passes sold for under 500 dollars (I believe we sell several hundred passes and then assume several people per car) adds hundreds if not thousands of individuals to Compo right off the bat (most of whom I was told are residents of Fairfield and other nearby towns and simply prefer Compo to Fairfield beaches). I am all for allowing our non tax paying neighbors to use our resources, but not at the detriment of residents. It’s a fine line between the revenue gained from selling season passes and the deterioration of the beach to Westport residents, especially since many of the non resident season pass holders visit the beach on a regular basis.

    • Lauren, I agree with this very much. Since we allow Wilton, Weston, Fairfield residents to buy season passes, this lends to the overcrowding as well. I’d happily pay more for my resident season pass to defer the cost of limiting these other towns’ passes.

      • David J. Loffredo

        It’s not Wilton, Weston and Fairfield residents. It’s all on the town website.

        It’s Weston – unlimited, and then 600 to anyone else.

  35. Bonnie Bradley

    This comment is a JOKE, friends….Wouldn’t it be nice if the settlement of the lawsuit in 1901 in CT Superior Court, awarding all of Compo Beach from where Soundview meets Hillspoint to the cannons, to the Town of Westport, taking his property away from my great-great-great grandfather David Bradley and awarding him about $1,500 in return, also resulted in awarding him and his direct descendants, in perpetuity, lifetime “passes”? Nice for us, I mean, of course. In the day horses were more common than autos and the concept of “beach stickers” still in the ether – but they could have been more forward-thinking, I’d say. And all of David’s remaining descendants still named “Bradley” now live “away” so it’s a moot point. Just like every other Westporter we dutifully bought our beach sticker every year when we were residents. But I still get an shivery feeling every time (Dan’s party, actually), that I am stepping onto land which was once ours.

    • Mary Cookman Schmerker '58

      Wonderful piece of History about our town. Thanks Bonnie for letting us know this information.

  36. Johanna Rossi

    As a suggestion. When Out of Town people Pay to Park at the beach entrance, Perhaps Parks and Rec can give them a Handout/Rules of Compo Beach with their receipt. Such as….

    Entrance and use of Compo Beach requires you to: Fill in the Blank… No Loud Music, No Glass Bottles, No Littering – Requirement to take clean up personal Belongings, even go as far as mapping out garbage locations and BBQ facilities…

  37. Yeah, it’s a good thing no one has to post rules about facilities in Vancouver. Oh, wait! http://vancouver.ca/parks-recreation-culture/picnic-policies-and-guidelines.aspx

    • Nancy Hunter

      Yes, universal rules, which most people worldwide follow regardless of signs or brochures, “money or class.”. My point is that these “rules” are pure common sense and respect. Any kindergartener would know that.

      More so, I still don’t understand why this post regarding beach visitors considers “race” as an issue. Please explain.

      ps Many thanks to those international firefighters helping to battle B.C.’s current wildfires — caused, maybe, by the few who have neither common sense, nor respect.

  38. Don L. Bergmann

    Lots of fine comments and suggestions. I can’t resist the opportunity to remind folks that one way to make a small contribution to any litter issue is pick up something and drop it in a garbage pail. It’s easy and makes a difference. Zelda, our Golden Retriever, and I do this regularly as we stroll along our beach area roads. I come equipped with a bag or two and am often thanked.

    Don Bergmann

    • Missy Targowski

      We do the same without grumble. I would pickup garbage anywhere anyway. Keeping Mother Earth clean is a priority! Thanks for your response and a reminder to “do our part” when others forget.

    • My husband and I (with our three children in tow) usually spend the first 5 minutes settling into Compo picking up trash. We are happy to do our part… but I do wish the regulations at the beach better-limited such disrespect.

  39. Jeff Arciola

    Good job Dan to make it about race and minority’s coming from a guy that teaches in mostly a white school system. So maybe the school system should open up and make Westport schools more diverse. It’s amazing how you would even think this women is racist because she was proposing parking issues. Also FYI I believe all town employees past and present are allowed to get beach stickers for being town employees. Come up with solutions instead of race baiting

    • Well said!

      • Bart Shuldman

        Dan did not open a post about racism. Read what he wrote.

        He was referencing a posting and comments from other people.

        Dan is also helping to bring forward an issue with Compo regarding Westporters getting shut out of parking at the beach. This is a goood topic that needs to be addressed and he helped get a good conversation going.

        Sorry, but you have it wrong.

        • Thanks, Bart. Jeff, sorry if you misinterpreted — many of the comments on the Facebook post referenced race and class.

    • David J. Loffredo

      See I think it’s a little bit racist….

      First – there’s a lack of understanding of the problem. I promise it’s not NY cars who purchase daily passes, it’s the CT cars with stickers belonging to non-Westport residents who actually reside in Weston (unlimited passes are distributed for $250/copy) or anywhere else (600 passes at $490/copy). So if you’re trying to keep parking available for Westport tax payers, the solution is to eliminate annual passes for non residents (like they do in Fairfield and Greenwich) and require ALL OUT OF TOWNERS to purchase daily passes, even the good people from Weston who one poster thinks deserve cheap passes because they shop in town.

      Second – many of the posters refer to our “neighbors” from other CT towns, as if coming from across the border makes you something else.

      Third – the post Dan copied word-for-word has this phrase ” I’ve spoken to and overheard many people at compo about their frustrations with parking and so on because of all the NY plates. They are all on board.” What’s “and so on” and is that why we now apparently need a police officer patrolling the beach?

      So I kinda think it’s all a little bit of thinly veiled racism, or maybe just unconscious bias. It’s not a bad thing, we all have a bit of it, but recognizing and course correcting is key and instead we want to hand out flyers to people with NY plates telling them to throw out the trash. Visit any baseball field in this town and I’ll show you more than enough local kid trash.

      But don’t let a little unconscious bias get in the way of a good thread. Understand the problem you’re trying to solve – which is non Westport tax paying residents – taking all your parking spots. The solution is simple – eliminate all non-resident annual passes, and require everyone from out of town (both neighbors from CT and those “from away” as they’d say in Maine) to purchase a daily pass – and regulate the number of those and problem solved.

      Let’s see if any First Selectman candidate is bold enough to go down that path.

  40. I found out yesterday , from a town employee, that credit cards are accepted as payment for day passes. This will surely slow down that line and as soon as more than two or three cars are waiting in that line, it slows down everyone waiting to get in.
    Why should those of us that have beach stickers have a long delay entering the beach because a decision was made to accommodate out of towners by taking credit cards?
    I also think that day passes need to be limited on weekends during the summer.
    By the way, has anyone noticed the wrong-way drivers at South Beach?

  41. Bill Boyd (Staples 1966)

    I have a love hate thing for Compo…I grew up and lived in Westport for over twenty years but now live in Trumbull….Wspt restricts their beaches more than most…even on a quiet evening they won’t allow night fishing by out of towners..(no one else is there)…rainy days when no one is around the guards deny even “a look”… a quick drive thru…and now days the restrictions run thru the fall when they used to end on Labor Day. I just stay away resenting the selfish Westport Attitude. (And thank god for Sherwood Island which welcomes ALL including seniors for free!)…

  42. Nancy Hunter

    Facebook is a dangerous place. No?

  43. This past Sunday at 2:30 the front gate at Compo Beach had to turn people from out of town away because they only had 15 spots available for season pass holders. This is not the 1st time this has happened this summer. A recent party at Compo Beach had over 250 guest and 3 food trucks, and we are wondering why we see so many out of State license plates at Compo? Should we be thinking about limiting the size of future events? Should the person who pulls the permit pay for their out of town guest parking ahead of time for an event and then the guest can display the ticket on the dash board of the car like we do for July 4th fireworks? Or is having an event with tents and food trucks becoming a similar extension of The Inn at Longshore? Could we create guest parking in the middle of the gravel lot? Leave the outside closest to the water parking for people who buy a season pass which might be helpful to seniors that have a hard time carrying beach chairs and coolers or for young parents with small children.
    I would love to see the sidewalk continue along Compo Beach Road, it could be placed along the grass pararel to the street. The sidewalk would be a continuation to longshore or maybe a longer walk to Saugatuck Center or to the train station. It’s a connecting walking path that is safe and keeps people from walking in the road and out of harms way.
    Another way to keep traffic flowing is barcodes on our seasonal beach sticker for the residents who purchase a seasons pass by doing this we limit all the stop and go traffic. If Compo would sell daily beach guest passes at the Parks & Recs. Office at Long Shore from Monday to Thursday that would also help prevent a traffic back up onto Compo Beach Road.
    Most of you have seen the pavilion roof by Joey’s outdoor eatting area at the beach was taken down, I thought it would be a great idea to add solar panels to the new roof. Westport is a progressive town and we should always be thinking about what we can do to help run our town more efficiently. I would enjoy listening & learning if anyone has input ideas for how Westport could use affordable solar.
    We all have our favorite spots to sit at Compo and I sit on the South side of Compo not far from the 2 small trees the problem is about 30 yards from the trees, rocks with garbage are being dumped. I was told when they clean up other parts of Compo Beach they drop the rocks & small trash in this area. Possibly it happened more in the beginning of the season. I can overlook who’s idea this was as long as we can find a solution to the problem. It’s bigger then having a rake party. We need equipment to come in and clean it up please ASAP. We have skunks that come out and feed off the garbage and it’s not because people are leaving trash behind. Plus we have no garbage cans that far down on the beach. So we either walk the trash down the beach to a garbage can or take it home with us. It’s not just my complaint I hear from most people who sit in this area.
    Most important I feel very lucky to have such a beautiful beach to go to with family & friends to watch a sunrise or a sunset. Thank you to everyone who works at Compo Beach & Long Shore.

    Dee Chapman
    RTM District 8

  44. First & Second Selectman candidates Melissa Kane & Rob Simmeljkaer took in the voluminous discussion about the beach issue on social media this week and put out a proposal to begin to tackle the issue should they be elected. It’s a great start: http://melissaforwestport.org/compo/

    • David J. Loffredo

      It’s not a great start.

      Their proposal addresses daily passes, the dreaded NY plates, without even understanding if that’s the problem,

      Again – someone find out:

      1) How many passes were issued to WESTON residents – none of whom pay Westport taxes.
      2) How many of the 600 OTHER NON RESIDENT passes were issued – none of whom pay Westport taxes.
      3) How many DAILY passes are issued on a regular basis.

      My guess is that #1 and #2 individually far eclipse #3 – so once again we have politicians solving the wrong problem. Forget Westport, they should run for President.

      • David, as I said, it’s a great start. I do not disagree with you that further analysis needs to be made on out of town passes from places like Weston in addition to the day passes, but throwing stones about “politicians” isn’t the answer here. We need change to the beach pass system, but as you stated, it is only your guess ithat #1 and #2 are the bigger issue. So none of us can say what is the “wrong” or “right” problem to address just yet. I’m rooting for change, and their proposal is a beginning.

        • Dianna Walsh

          I don’t think it is unreasonable to ask for the facts supporting the proposal. I agree that at this point, none of us can say what the actual scope of the issue is (how often has the lot actually been full? I use the beach very frequently and I have never had to wait in line or been turned away — on weekdays the lot sits fairly empty most of the day and picks up after 3pm after local kids get out of camp) and what the primary cause is (large private events allowed on peak days? non-resident season passes? day passes? all of the above? so many theories . . . ) because none of us have done the research. While I am a Westport taxpayer, I am also mindful that I benefit from the revenue brought in by the sale of day passes, how much do I benefit and how much would I lose if we push the price too high and drive too many away? These threads tend to be a place for people to vent their frustration. I look to my elected officials (and those running for those positions) to keep a level head and to do the research and provide the facts along with proposed solutions. I am open to any and all changes that make our beach and our town better, but I am very frustrated by the lack of facts included in this discussion as a whole. I am intrigued by Melissa & Rob’s proposals and look forward to hearing more regarding the factual basis for, and anticipated cost of, those proposals.

      • Bart Shuldman

        David. Your comments, ideas and concerns are very good. The issue regarding non Westport residents buying a season parking pass seems to be real and should be analyzed first, before anything is done.

        Of course some just want to suggest spending a lot of money before understanding the real issue. Politics thrown at an issue never works.

  45. If you want to reduce the crowds; charge a market clearing price that embodies peak load pricing. The town needs the money now more than ever.

  46. Lauren MacNeill

    There is nothing racist here. There are plenty of real things going in our country that are – lets spend our time being critical of those. This is a really interesting discussion about the overuse of very important town asset. I agree with many of the commenters that it should very simply be a limit for on-residents. A certain number of non-residents should be allowed at any one time, leaving those of that do live here at great expense to be able to enjoy our town beach.

  47. The President has proposed cutting outsiders from coming into this country by 50%. Both of my parents were immigrants. Making it more expensive to park at the beach in Westport makes me uncomfortable. In years past, when regular beach parking spaces were full, other open spaces at the beach were opened. I live near the beach. Not long ago, a Jeep with 5 girls pulled up and asked if they could park here. I made them all agree to do something special for their mom when they got home. We all laughed and perhaps their moms did too.

  48. Golly! – “going to the Beach” doesn’t sound like fun!