Parks & Rec Approves Walkway, Bathrooms For South Beach

Last summer’s vexing Compo Beach problems — backups at the main gate, an influx of out-of-towners, packed parking lots — have not yet been solved.

But whether they are or not, visitors next summer may see some important changes on South Beach.

Last night, the Parks & Recreation Commission unanimously approved construction of a new walkway and bathrooms at South Beach — the no-lifeguard, cookout grill, alcohol-permitted section beloved by picnickers and sunset-watchers.

A safe walking path and restrooms have been identified as key needs in surveys and a town charrette, dating back to 2013.

The walkway concept approved last night will be similar to the one installed 2 years ago, from the pavilion near Joey’s to the cannons. Made of cement, it features wooden railings open to access every 2 cars.

It will connect to the current walkway at the cannons. It continues to the cut-through road near the kayak launch, then connects with the gravel marina walkway via a crosswalk.

The current roadway would shift slightly north, to accommodate the new walkway. No parking would be lost. Several parking spots would be lost.

Plans for the new walkway and bathrooms at South Beach. Click on or hover over to enlarge.

The bathroom — to be built on an unpaved area just south of the pickleball courts — will include an outdoor shower and water fountain. The exterior is white with blue trim, and brick accents.

The projected cost for the walkway is $429,643. The bathroom cost is $257,473.

Plans now go to the Conservation Commission, Flood Board, Architectural Review Board and Planning & Zoning Commission. If the Board of Finance and RTM approve funding, the project will be put out to bid.

30 responses to “Parks & Rec Approves Walkway, Bathrooms For South Beach

  1. Sally Campbell Palmer

    OMG! How have we managed to survive lo these many years without a 425k sidewalk?

    • Addison Armstrong

      not to mention the 260k sidewalk to nowhere along the eastern side of Main Street, adjacent to Veteran’s Green!!

  2. At the meeting at Town Hall last night, they did state that at least 8 parking lot spots would be lost and approximately 5 spots “worth” estimated would be lost from the gravel lot for a total of 13 lost spots. Also, out of the walkway cost listed in your article, I believe $200,000 is to run water lines etc. for the bathroom project but I’m not completely sure as they had those costs comingled with the walkway under “site work”. The bathroom they approved had the smallest footprint which is good. All in all a nice project, unlikely to be built by summer 2018 however, they did not commit to that timing.

  3. Jennifer Johnson

    This is great news! Many thanks to both the Parks & Recreation Commission and Department of Public Works for getting Westport to this point. Let’s hope that the BOF, P&Z, etc. approve the design without delay so we can celebrate the new walkway and bathroom upgrade before Memorial Day 2018.

  4. Charlie Haberstroh

    Just to be clear, $200k+ of the “costs” of the walkway relate to connections of sewer water and electricity to the bathroom. The PRD will be providing the projected numbers for that separately.

    Charlie Haberstroh

  5. Yes. It was announced that 6-8 parking spots would definitely be lost, and possibly another 5. Here we are trying to fix congestion problems at the beach that include limited parking, and we are giving away parking spots for a “nice to have”, but unnecessary, high cost project. Nice piece of urban planning!

    • Thanks – my error re parking. I revised the story.

    • Charlie Haberstroh

      Mark, We are going to fix the congestion problems. 5-10 parking spots one way or another are not going to materially affect the issue. We are very conscious of cost issues, but we owe the residents of Westport a better solution for South Beach. They were the two “most wanted” improvements at Compo. And BTW the net cost of Parks and Rec to the taxpayers is about $100 – 200k a year.

  6. Charlie Haberstroh

    Also what was approved by the Commission will be put up on the Parks and Rec. Department website.

  7. Thank you Parks & Rec!!!!!! Very exciting and so needed. I agree that the cost is high in a time of budget constraints BUT the South Beach plan is vitally needed, especially for the elderly, disabled and families with young children who wish to use South Beach. Have you ever tried pushing a wheel chair on sand or tried running a four-year-old from South Beach to the main beach bathrooms and actually made it in time? All of our citizens should have access to the full beach, not just half of it. Let’s support Parks & Rec and get this done!!

  8. Finally!! Hope all gets approved. We spend a good deal of time on So Beach!!

  9. Just curious – what’s a rain garden?

  10. David J. Loffredo

    I think this is great, Charlie and others who were directly involved, congrats!

    The safe walkway has been a huge improvement, especially for our Seniors and parents pushing strollers. Extending it the length of the beach makes perfect sense as does adding another bathroom to remove the trek to the pavilion – especially dangerous after the sun goes down and the cars start backing out of the spaces.

    Half the comments will be of course snarky and mean, I’m pretty sure Dan could post a picture of puppies playing and people would still find a reason something wrong with it.

  11. Thanks go to Charlie and the Parks and Rec team. Finally bathrooms!!!! Yeah!!

    And the added plus are nice sidewalks!!

    Thanks you!!

  12. Charlie Haberstroh

    Just to keep the record correct, Dan: The Commission approved 5 recommendations to start to deal with the congestion issues in our October meeting and as I said at last night’s meeting we will be discussing implementation of additional recommendations of the Parks and Rec Department at our December, January, February, March and April meetings to effectively address those issues before the May 1 beach opening for the summer season. I cannot promise that everything will be corrected perfectly, but for sure we will do everything possible to avoid a recurrence of last summer’s experience.


    • Charlie, thanks for your responsiveness and for your attention to detail. This looks like a wonderful plan.

  13. Jacque O'Brien

    I’m wondering – What is a picnic pad?

    • The picnic pads are hard surfaces like the sidewalk placed adjacent to marked (with signs) handicapped parking spots which enable disabled persons to picnic on the beach and enjoy the beach like every one else. It is a lovely idea. The speech by the mother of a child with cerebral palsy last night at Town Hall about what those pads will mean
      to their family was incredibly moving.

  14. Correct me if I’m wrong, but there was a commitment that this project would not cause the loss of any parking. Certainly this had to be a response to concern that a reduction in the limited existing parking would, in fact, be an issue. I don’t see how you can rationalize “the material effect”. Reduction of parking is a loss, not a benefit. And given the complexity of the congestion problem, this loss only makes viable solutions more difficult.

  15. Wehn will the locker roooms come we been asking for years the board off finance approved it I think Jim Marpe an. And Parks and Recreation Commission should put them in sooner before next year season I think the town should do it

  16. Stephen Axthelm

    Notice the four small “Picnic Pads” along the way? They are for wheelchairs and will have a table and grill by each as well as a associated handicap parking space. The most touching comment last night was the woman who spoke of her son who has Cerebral Palsy. They don’t currently use Compo because it is just too challenging. She was very emotional about how this will change their family’s lives.

  17. Patsy Cimarosa

    The improvements sound great! Any word on the chain link fence blocking access to lockers? The brick archway it replaced was one of the best features of the beach.

  18. Thanks to Charlie. Small but important point. I hope, included in the plan, there is section for handicapped and elderly folks to access the BBQ’s. At the moment lack of access is a problem.

    • Charlie Haberstroh

      Yes those are the 4 pads on the drawing which will have picnic tables and BBQ as well as handicap parking nearby.

  19. Nice reasonable upgrades

  20. Looks great.

  21. Plan looks great. Finally a safe walk around the beach and a South Beach bathroom. What a day! Thanks commission.

  22. Charlie Haberstroh

    Sidewalk = $225k; sitework (water, electricity and sewer) = $200k.

  23. Wendy Crowther

    Rather than being painted blue and white, I hope the architectural design of the new bathroom building will reference the style and color of the brickwork that our iconic Compo Beach Bathing Pavilion possesses. This Pavilion (built circa 1931) is a contributing resource in Westport’s Compo/Owenoke National Register District. Tie these structures together stylistically to provide continuity in this important NR District.