Jim Crow And Compo

With the hubbub of a holiday weekend, you may have missed  the NewYork Times opinion piece, “The North’s Jim Crow.”

It’s by Andrew W. Kahrl, an associate professor of history and African-American studies at the University of Virginia. He recently wrote a book about Ned Coll, the 1960s and ’70s activist who sought access to Connecticut’s shoreline for all.

Citing 2 recent examples — the Starbucks manager who called the police when 2 black men asked to use the restroom while waiting for a friend, and the woman who called police to report a black family grilling at a picnic — Kahrl says that “the selective enforcement of minor ordinances … performs the same work today that segregation laws did in the past.”

Take public beaches, for example. He notes that while Southern officials “literally drew color lines in the sands,” towns in the Northeast “devised elaborate, and ostensibly colorblind, procedures for determining who could access public shores, and what they could bring and do inside, and then proceeded to enforce them for black and brown people only.”

In 1975, members of Ned Coll’s Revitalization Corps demonstrated in Old Saybrook, for access to the beach. (Photo courtesy of Bob Adelman)

Kahrl zeroes in on “wealthy, all-white towns along the Connecticut Gold Coast, where blacks were effectively excluded from living by racist housing policies.”

He says, “While nearby urban black populations swelled and the demand for access to public places of recreation spiked, towns like Greenwich, Westport and Fairfield restricted their beaches to residents. It was obvious whom these laws were meant to exclude.”

This winter — in response to last summer’s crowds, who came from throughout Connecticut and nearby New York, and sometimes filled the parking lot to capacity — Westport restricted the number of daily passes (sold to anyone without a season sticker).

Yet I don’t know that Westport ever “restricted (our) beaches to residents.” That’s a pretty strong charge for Professor Kahrl to make, and for the New York Times to print.

If any “06880” readers have recollections of Westport’s beach policies in the 1960s and ’70s, click “Comments” below.

(For the full New York Times opinion piece, click hereHat tip: Fred Cantor)

51 responses to “Jim Crow And Compo

  1. Don’t recollect any racial limitations in Westport.

  2. There were no “limitations” in the legal sense–anyone could walk on to the beaches–but the lack of any public parking or access to transit meant the residents of nearby Bridgeport and Norwalk were effectively excluded. C’mon, everybody knows that.

    • Jack Whittle

      Same “theory” applies to residents of Fairfield, Wilton, Easton . . . but everyone knows that too.

      • William Strittmatter

        Yes, it also kept folks from Fairfield, Wilton, Easton, etc. out but let’s be real. Westport, like many other Gold Coast towns, effectively put up barriers to keep any non-Westport (or whatever other town) folks out. That is all those folks who couldn’t afford to live in Westport. And, of course, restrictive zoning to “maintain the Town’s character” kept relative housing prices higher helping to keep “those folks” out.

        Not specifically racist, but certainly classist, which, of course, has the side benefit of allowing one to also be racist (if one is so inclined) without being blatant about it by providing a convenient fig leaf.

        Please don’t kid yourself about what all those folks in the 60’s and 70’s were really up to. Why did they really move to Westport rather than Stamford, Norwalk or Bridgeport? Better schools? Think through causality and what’s hidden below the surface.

        • Thanks, Bill. Here’s my question — asked out of genuine curiosity, and NOT sarcastically: When did you move to Westport, and why?

          • William Strittmatter

            Dan – We actually live in Fairfield (since moving back from Chicago in 1990) but my wife grew up in Westport (was at Staples same time as you I believe), her parents lived in Westport for decades after, our kids learned to swim at the Y, and all the good restaurants used to be there so we ended up spending a considerable amount of time in Westport which is why I read and comment. Fairfield decision was combination of commute, taxes, schools, and what we could afford (as in we couldn’t afford to buy what we wanted in Westport but bought a foreclosed property in Fairfield).

            For what it is worth, I grew up in the city of St. Louis in the 60’s and 70’s. As I’ve told my children over the years, most of Fairfield County (Westport and Fairfield included) is not particularly representative of the real world.

        • Jack Whittle

          I disagree – first with Jim Motavalli’s claim that “everybody knows” that Westport’s restriction of beach parking to pass-holders was to keep Bridgeport and Norwalk residents out (i.e. a racist proxy) – since that parking restriction applies equally to residents of Fairfield, Wilton, Easton, and Norwalk (and if we are going beyond towns that border us then we can just as easily include Darien if we include Bridgeport); and then with William Strittmatter’s claim that “what all those folks in the 60s and 70s were really up to” where it seems he assigns responsibility for the beach pass parking policy. It applies even-handedly to all towns, rich or poor, and regardless of the color of its residents.

          As for “why did they really move to Westport” I will tell you why my parents moved to Westport, and then why my wife (to be) and I eventually bought a house in Westport: the quality of the schools, followed by the wide range and quality of the Town amenitites. Not the color of the students – in fact, I would have preferred a greater mix, but we don’t bus kids in from Bridgeport like we did when I was in school here.

          • Fred Cantor

            Following up on Jack’s statements re the quality of the school system, that also was a significant part of my parents’ decision to move to Westport in 1963. But equally important to my parents was that Westport was not known for having restrictive covenants at that point in time—and the town had a reputation for being a progressive, open community.

            I’m not saying everything was perfect; on the other hand, examples of what I’m referring to can be found in a couple of the historical stories Dan has written about:



  3. When Greenwich was forced to open up its beaches it responded by making out-of-towners pick up permits at town hall during business hours and charging exorbitant fees for day passes.

    • David J. Loffredo

      So by exorbitant you mean the $35/parking and $7 per person they charge in Greenwich (any day of the week) is worse than the $40/weekday, $65 weekends/holidays per car charge in Westport?

  4. Will Luedke

    During the summer of 1975, I was Director of Beaches (Head Lifeguard) at Compo…We received reliable information that Compo Beach was one of the Connecticut beaches to be targeted by Ned Coll for a “visit”…His plan, as we understood it, was to drop off several busloads of children and their chaperones along the seawall and then access the beach…I distinctly remember that thoughts of restriction or prohibition of access were never on our minds…Our sole concern was that we needed to be able to ensure the safety all beachgoers in light of a perhaps larger than normal number of patrons at one or more of the guard posts along the seawall…We were prepared to supplement the guards in the chairs with a couple of lifeguards on foot if need be…

  5. Rindy Higgins

    Though I don’t recall racial limitations per se, I do recall having to have handpasses, even to be just on the beach. I lived nearby and would walk to the beach. Heaven forbid if I didn’t have my handpass on me! Maybe these handpasses were a form of passive restriction?

    • Fred Cantor

      Rindy, roughly what years do you recall handpasses being required on the beach? My family moved here in ‘63 and that wasn’t the policy then. (At least I have no recollection whatsoever of it being required; I never carried one with me at Compo—I only did at Longshore.)

      I worked in the tennis courts/pool area at Longshore in high school and college starting in 1970 and handpasses were required there (or you had to pay a fee as a guest of a resident). But, again, that was the policy at the country club, not the beach.

      • Rindy, I agree with Fred. I grew up here in the ’60s and ’70s, and there were NEVER handpasses required for Compo. There was absolutely no way to check them — too many access points. However, handpasses WERE required for Longshore. There was one entrance to the pool and tennis courts (at the current Joey’s entry pavilion), but of course there were many other ways for kids to sneak in.

      • Rindy Higgins

        It was later…1977-9 or thereabouts. I recall being asked many times for my pass while on the beach!

        • Rindy, I don’t think ANYONE from the late ’70s can recall EVER being asked for a pass while on the beach. Sorry!

        • Jack Whittle

          No way, never happened – unless someone was pranking you (might have been one of my friends), since we were at the beach most every summer day around that very time frame, no one was asking to see handpasses, no one was even employed by the Town to perform such a function.

  6. There definitely were restrictions. In the late ’60s I will never forget the local (disgusting) uproar when the Norwalk Public schools asked for permission for about 10 (I don’t recall but a small number) of elementary school students to be allowed to come to the beach after summer school one summer. The hysteria was significant. I don’t recall the decision only being at Staples and attending public meetings with several Staples students to express anger and support for access.

  7. Mary Cookman Schmerker Staples '58

    Since by the mid 1960’s I was married and only visiting family my recollections may not have much importance. Honestly, in the late 1950’s and until the mid 1970’s I honestly thought that the stickers were to keep the New York license plates off the beach. We really did not like the summer residents. You could , as I remember it, buy a parking spot for the day across the street in the small lot. I really don’t think it had anything to do with race. Westport was pretty progressive and appreciated their African American residents, who as I remember it, made significant contributions to the community. It was just those **** New Yorkers we didn’t like.

    • Nancy Hunter

      I’ve always wondered what it is about New Yorkers that Westport doesn’t like to this day, it seems. So many Westporters are New Yorkers.

  8. Maria Parker Karlen

    Anyone who wanted to pay the out of town fee could park in that lot. I believe the fee on weekends was $25. I do not ever remember a time it was written up in the local paper or people talking about it, that people were turned away. We all thought the fee was steep, but so be it. I was in junior high and Staples in the 1960’s and graduated from college in 1970. I came back often in the summers and spent time on Compo Beach during the 1970’s. So I think the author is not accurate about Westport.

  9. Arline Gertzoff

    I have used Westport beaches for 71 years.There have never been any handpasses except for Longshore pool in the early 60’s.Other Longshore facilities as well Fees are for parking not for using the beach.if you parked you needed an emblem or a day pass.People like to make things up to dump on Westport.It is easy to mix up Longshore and beach regulations

  10. Bill Boyd (Staples '66)

    I sense blindness and amnesia in the comments here….Westport has always been zealous perhaps over zealous in its beach policies….I moved to town in 1959 and have seen it get tougher and tougher….same in Fairfield….even at night with no one around I was denied access to go fishing many times in both towns….expensive day passes are another example….today with no pass I can’t even take a quick lap of the beach on a rainy day with all of compo empty… No…Westport is not overly friendly to out of towners at their beaches. Imagine being on vacation in Maine and having to pay fifty or sixty dollars to go for a swim….thank goodness for Sherwood island where I currently go.

    • Elaine Marino

      Bill: One of our favorite beaches in Maine is Crescent Beach State Park (Cape Elizabeth). The entry fee for residents is $6 per person, and $8 per person for non-residents. (Seniors are free, and children under 12 pay $1.00 each.) Since children 12 and older are considered adults, our group of six pays $48 to swim at Crescent Beach. The park is open from 9:00 am to “sunset.”


  11. Andrew Kahrl

    Thanks for commenting on my op-ed. In response to the question you posed at the end, here is an excerpt from the first chapter of my book: “In 1930, Westport passed an ordinance that restricted parking privileges along the beach to residents only. The following year, it enacted an outright ban on nonresident use of town beaches on Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays.” (Free the Beaches, pp. 19-20)

    • William Strittmatter

      Not to be argumentative, but did you have anything other than a self-referential source for that assertion. Maybe you have the source footnoted in your book – which I unfortunately do not have but sounds like an interesting read. I might pick up to read over the summer (I don’t do Jane Green or Elin Hilderbrand).

    • Thanks, Andrew. But this seems a bit disingenuous. Your mention of Westport’s ban — enacted in 1930, but not sourced, and only partial (weekends and holidays) if it actually existed — was obviously rescinded before the 1960s.

      Yet you write: “While nearby urban black populations swelled and the demand for access to public places of recreation spiked, towns like Greenwich, Westport and Fairfield restricted their beaches to residents. It was obvious whom these laws were meant to exclude.”

      The “urban black populations” were not swelling in 1930.

      Westport has much to be criticized for. However, our beach policy — aimed at out-of-towners in general, not blacks in particular — should be clarified much better by you.

  12. David Jones

    The problem with race relations today is the view from Mr. Kahrl’s lofty position as a Professor, he has never had a job. I was on staff as a lifeguard in 1975, and Will’s directive could have not been clearer, safety first. Not one person on the entire staff mentioned color, economic status or “where” you came from, period. Kahrl should be ashamed of himself, as a history professor, and not knowing the facts.

  13. John Knofla

    Unfortunately there is no doubt that humans are wired for prejudice based discrimination…be it be the color of your skin or your religion or your weight…it is never going to go away and it even seems at times it is getting worse….

  14. Restrictions and “unwritten” rules that are enforced based on skin color are a fact of life for African Americans like me. Your readers make a mistake when you consider only one issue – beach access – as separate from the interwoven fabric of our lives. Access to housing, to private/public spaces, to education, to employment are all related. So here’s my experience with “access” in Westport when I lived there with my family from 1971 – 2008.
    Beach access: My daughters attended Intercommunity Camp, a day camp opened to promote interracial communication between children from Westport and Bridgeport in the early 1970’s. The camp met at Burr Farms school and then at Kings Highway school. The camp’s population was about 50% white Westporters and 50% black Bridgeporters and had perhaps 75 campers. When the organizers asked for permission to take the children swimming in small groups at Compo Beach, that request was denied. The Bridgeport campers were not residents, the beach officials argued. But of course the Westport campers were residents, so their rights to beach access were denied. The solution was an elegant one: various citizens volunteered their pools for the camp’s use. I enjoyed asking my daughters where they had gone swimming when they returned from camp. “Burt Bacharach’s” they’d reply disinterestedly, or “Somebody named Paul Newman,” or “A family with a funny name, Sugar Man, but they didn’t give us candy.” It was a bittersweet resolution.
    Housing access: We bought a house in Westport for the same reasons that many young couples move to town – we wanted good public schools for our young daughters, my husband and I needed a reasonable commute to New York City, and we had enough money. But we weren’t shown all of the homes in our price range that met our requirements. We went through a Fair Housing Group that worked only with realtors who had agreed not to discriminate; not all Westport realtors would accept these terms. What are the long term consequences for these limitations? Although we were perfectly happy with our home, we might have selected a more valuable house had we seen all the possibilities. It then could have sold for more money in 2008, giving me additional funds for retirement and my daughters and grandchildren a larger inheritance. Lack of access has consequences for succeeding generations.
    Harassment: We entertained frequently at our Webb Road home. When we went for the occasional walk off the road with our guests, police cars sometimes followed us, never stopping but just indicating that we were suspicious characters. Had they been called by neighbors or had they merely been cruising by? I’ll never know. After a few years the surveillance stopped. I imagined that they put us on a secret list of “Blacks who live in Westport.” When we left town for several weeks and invited black friends to stay in our home, I notified the neighbors and the police so there would be no unpleasant incidents.
    Some readers will doubt the reality of these experiences. Others will question their importance or universality. Most will claim that the town is better now than it was in the 1970s. Perhaps. Whatever happened to my family and me could have happened in any upscale white neighborhood in this country. Westport was as good a place to live as any.
    Judith A. Hamer

  15. Back in 1994, Michael Moore’s “TV Nation” pulled a stunt in which actress/activist Janeane Garafalo invited a bunch of “diverse” New Yorkers to pile into a bus and head to Greenwich Beach. When they were turned away (no huge surprise), they climbed into boats and “invaded” from the sea. Six minutes of wild TV!

  16. Bob Stalling

    Police cars followed you, “never stopping”….”Had they been called by neighbors or had they merely been cruising by? I’ll never know”

    And then you “imagined” you were put on a secret list…

    It just doesn’t get any more real than that.

    By the way, I have been followed by the Westport police many times and actually been pulled over. The first time was when I was 16 years old in 1975, I was pulled over for having my licensed plate wired on instead of bolted. I won’t mention all the other times….

    Is it too late for me to file a harassment lawsuit?

  17. March 11, 1964 Bridgeport Post
    An article describes the Board of Selectmen voting the following:
    Increase for Weston residents for a Compo season sticker from $15 to $25.
    For those not having a season sticker the rates were increased as follows:
    For week day use from $2.50 to $4.00
    For weekend and holiday admission the daily fee was increased to $8.00.
    Using the US Inflation calculator, 1964 dollars compared to 2018 dollars: $15 = $121.23; $25 = $202.50; $2.50 = $20.21; $4.00 = $32.33; $8.00 = $64.66. So, in 1964, those ineligible for a seasonal sticker were required to pay what we now experience as a $64.66 fee to use Compo Beach. You can draw your own conclusions.

  18. Seems to me i remember that the argument in westport was that the beach is open to anyone but the parking lot was maintained by the town, and there was a fee for its use. Non residents (including weston residents) paid much more than residents.
    This was circumvented by people from bridgeport being bussed to the pavillion.
    So ues, i suppose the beach was open to all.

  19. Michael Calise

    True there may be reasonable points here but they do create an illusion of a community mindset that does not exist here. Are we saying that a community of people who have the resources to provide better housing, exemplary education for their children and wonderful recreation facilities must exist in a sea of guilt and offer their resources away until their standard of living is no greater than anyone else. Limitations of use are a natural result of limited resources and nothing more. Beaches don’t grow, roads don’t get wider, open spaces do not get bigger. Assist others as much as you can, share as much as you can, encourage others to become as successful and satisfied as they can but never be so uneasy as to destroy that which is the good around you.

  20. David J. Loffredo

    My mom (since passed so I can’t confirm with her) was part of the group (maybe as part of the WYWL?) who built the original Compo Beach playground in what must have been the mid 70’s since we moved away in ’77. She used to tell us there was a lot of local opposition because of the fear that kids from Bridgeport would come play on the playground.

    • David, when the Compo Beach playground was built in the mid-1980s, there was plenty of opposition. People feared it would attract hordes “out-of-towners” (but that was people in general — NOT race-based). They also worried it would mar the “vista” of the beach. And that it would be filled with beer-drinking, drug-using, sex-making teenagers.

      I’m pretty sure that was the first playground at that location. Since the 1960s, there had a been a very small playground (monkey bars, swings, carousel) near the basketball courts.

      • Nancy Hunter

        Thanks for the honesty.

      • Bob Stalling

        I helped build that playground, and since I was in the Marine Corps until 1987, it had to be built in 88 or 89….

      • Adam Stolpen

        Dan, the current playground was not the first on the site. There was a much smaller one there with slides, see-saws and swings, including several with horsehead swings which kids could “ride”. I used that playground when I lived on Bluewater Hill as a kid, and also worked on the deconstruction of the old playground as well as the simultaneous building of the new one. I took the horseswings from the pile of waste trash during deconstruction and kept them at my house until a few years ago when I gave them to the town.

        The opposition to the new playground was not about outsiders using it at all; I never heard that said once. Instead it focused on information obtained by Gail Cunningham Coen, life-long beach resident and head of the Compo Residents Association. She provided scientific proof that the wood planned for the new playground was arsenic infused and would splinter. A fact proved correct shortly after when the wood needed to be replaced.

        Everyone who worked on the playground that I ever heard voiced satisfaction that the new area would be widely used by anyone who enjoyed combo. No one seemed upset in the least that non-Westporters would enjoy it; it was intended to be a fantasy site for all children.

        • Sorry, Adam, but there was intense opposition. Woody Klein, in his history of Westport writes on page 317:

          “A playground for children, designed by the noted architect Robert Leathers, turned into one of Wetport’s most controversial issues of the 1980s. It even brought a death threat to (first selectman Marty) Hauhuth, the only one she ever received. Beach neighbors, vearing traffic and distressed at a structure being built on scarce beachfront, went to court and got an injunction to stoop it. Hauhuth supported the parents who wanted the playground, and went to court to dispute the injunction. While the judge was making his decision, she drove back to Compo to wait. As soon as the injunction was lifted, the hammers came out and everyone worked together to build one of Westport’s ‘happiest attractions,’ as Hauhuth described it.”

          There was plenty of concern about how much use it would get — including by “out-of-towners.” It was NOT, as I said, racially motivated — just that it would be used to a great degree by people who don’t live here.

          That fear, of course, proved groundless.

  21. March 11, 1964, Bridgeport Post
    An article describes the Board of Selectmen voting the following:
    Increase for Weston residents for a Compo season sticker from $15 to $25.
    For those not having a season sticker the rates were increased as follows:
    For week day use from $2.50 to $4.00
    For weekend and holiday admission the daily fee was increased to $8.00.
    Using the US Inflation calculator, 1964 dollars compared to 2018 dollars: $15 = $121.23; $25 = $202.50; $2.50 = $20.21; $4.00 = $32.33; $8.00 = $64.66. So, in 1964, those ineligible for a seasonal sticker were required to pay what we now experience as a $64.66 fee to use Compo Beach. You can draw your own conclusions.

  22. The “quality of schools” is absolutely our country’s most enduring and insidious racism and classism. – Chris Woods

  23. Patty Kondub

    Summer of 1982, home from my freshman year at UCONN, one of my best friends, Ed Kelly, visited me and we went to Compo all day. He was African-American, grew up in Co-Op City. We had no issues with anyone at Compo or in town, nor did anyone look at us as an odd couple, that I can recall.

    • Bob Stalling

      Sorry Patty, we can’t have any stories like that for John Knofla….it doesn’t fit the narrative for what he imagines to be true.

  24. Hank McDonald

    I was born on Westport, grew up there, and graduated from Staples (GO Class of 1980!!). I moved away after college and have not been there since, except for visits to friends a couple of times a decade, although I haven’t been back in close to 15 years or so now. I consider Westport to be my hometown. I have a ‘perspective’ on this issue which may be enlightening.

    The house I grew up in was on River Oaks Road, and overlooked Exit 18 (and the Mill Pond, and Sherwood Island). I absolutely remember summer days when there were lines of stopped cars snaking up from the entrance at Sherwood Island, along the Sherwood Island Connector, down the off-ramp from I-95 Northbound, and out of our point-of-view along I-95 to the west. Thousands (??) of cars waiting to spend a peaceful, relaxing day on the beach. This is no exaggeration. It happened many times. I asked my father about it one day. He was, or had been, a member of the Representative Town Committee (or whatever it was called) for a couple of years, and his response was something like, “Can you imagine if THAT was winding its way through town along all the roads to Compo and Burying Hill Beaches???” On those crowded days, they would have parking on the ‘sand flats’ at Sherwood Island, and that area was large enough to handle thousands (???) of cars. At that time, there were, perhaps, 10 parking spots at Burying Hill Beach (later expanding the parking lot to the only other available land to, perhaps, 20 parking spots). Compo could have handled a couple 100 cars, give or take. Just to be clear, my father’s attitude on the subject was NOT racially motivated – it wasn’t even socio-economically (or any other buzz-word/-phrase you care to use) motivated — his point was pure practicality. Westport was simply not built to handle countless thousands of cars going to Compo/Burying Hill. The issue was fairly simple: how do you provide access for thousands of non-residents and still provide access to residents?? You know, the people that are paying local taxes to upkeep these facilities and who have a vested interest in keeping these facilities clean and fun? For those that argue that Westporters should have expanded the town roads and town beach facilities are simply not being reasonable – can you imagine 4 lane roads along Greens Farms, Hillspoint, and Compo Roads? Should we bulldoze Greens Farms Academy to turn it into a parking lot? Should we bulldoze a couple dozen houses adjacent to Compo for the same reason? Can you imagine how many properties would need to be condemned and bulldozed along Hillspoint as you go by the Old Mill area? Opponents would suggest that I am being ridiculous. I honestly don’t think I am. If only there were a beach, in Westport waters, with affordable access, and easy access from Anywhere USA. Sherwood Island, folks! This is/was the most practical solution, from so many points of view. Sherwood Island is capable of handling thousands of beach-goers on any given day, whereas the rest of Westport beaches COMBINED can probably only handle hundreds, or perhaps a thousand. Remember, Sherwood Island covers about 200 acres and the rest of Westport public beaches and facilities cover, perhaps 50 (75???) acres. For those that argue that Sherwood Island is state-owned, and not a Westport Public Beach, I say, “What does it matter?” Honstly, if you are going to spend a day at the beach ‘out in the country’, does it really matter what municipality owns it? Do you really care what color the uniform is of the guy picking up your Baby Ruth wrapper?? Really?

    I’m gonna throw a solution out there from the opposite side of the field AND address the implication of unfairness (and, frankly, racism) in resident/non-resident beach access. MAKE BEACH FEES EQUAL FOR RESIDENTS AND NON-RESIDENTS. Instead of lowering them all to current resident-based fees, RAISE them all to non-resident-based fees. Their would be plenty of grumbling, no doubt, but in the end I would expect that jump in fees would only discourage 5% of current residents from renewing their annual pass.

    In the time that I lived in Westport, I came to know it as a town of well-meaning, well-to-do (there is no denying the economic aspect of being a Westport resident), generous, and non-racially-motivated people. To say otherwise, you would HAVE to have lived in town to understand the motivation and attitude of the people (to understand whether some exclusionary ‘tactic’ was racially, economically, practically, or otherwise motivated). Westporters (or anyone else, for that matter) should not be made to apologize for their success in life. When it comes to generosity, be generous to the extant that you care to, and in the form that you wish. I now work in a factory out West, and could not possibly afford to live in Westport. Same for Darien, New Canaan, Laguna Beach, Mercer Island (I Live in WA state), the Hamptons, and probably hundreds of other communities around the country. I have no doubt that there are communities that we could not afford to live in, back when we lived in Westport, and that was never an issue. I go to the beaches that I can, which is not every beach. I have ZERO problem with that. I am a left-leaning (some of my friends would say that I have fallen off the left edge of the Earth) democrat, and yet I still have written the words that you have read, above. And I don’t apologize. (Sorry for the book, but I guess I just had to add a few more than my 2-cents worth to the discussion.)

    • Hank McDonald

      Perhaps offset up to 75-90% of the new beach pass fee with town fees/taxes that have been paid by the individual, like property taxes, marina fees, etc. At the end of the day, it just sounds fair that the people that (financially, and by other means) support the town should have some perks. I just resent that this is being turned into (or trying, anyway) a race issue. By the great majority, Westporters are some of the most inclusive, generous, and race-blind people around. After moving out, I’ve seen the other side.