Compo Beach sure looks and feels a lot different this year than last.
If you haven’t noticed, you’re not paying attention.
Or maybe you can’t get in.
A quick recap: This past winter — in response to Westporters’ rising complaints about overcrowded parking, picnic tables and sand — the Parks and Recreation Commission did some rising itself.
They raised the price of season beach stickers for Weston residents, from $250 to $375. They raised it for all other non-residents even more: from $490 to $775.
Daily passes rose too. They’re now $50 on weekdays, $65 on weekends.
Westporters’ prices rose slightly. A season sticker is now $50 ($25 for seniors).
Parks & Rec also instituted caps on sales. They limited non-resident sticker sales to 350 (from the previous 600). And — perhaps most significantly — there is now a daily cap: No more than 100 non-residents are allowed in each day. Signs on nearby roads indicate when the limit has been reached (sometimes as early as noon).
Add in newly remodeled bathrooms on both sides of the bathhouses, and extra grills at South Beach; a new entrance pattern and special parking area for non-residents — leaving prime beachfront spots for Westporters — and the difference is palpable.
Many beachgoers love the “new” Compo. They applaud the space they’ve got, the availability of picnic tables and grills, even the lower decibel level.
Others are less pleased.
They wonder about lost revenue. Though Parks & Rec said that increased fees would pay for better maintenance and the full-time cop, it seems from anecdotal evidence and those daily cap signs that the beach is bringing in a lot less money than it used to.
That probably also affects Joey’s by the Shore. It may have contributed to PAL sitting on a few hundred unsold fireworks tickets this year — thousands of dollars that won’t go to programs and kids.
And smaller crowds means less “life” at the beach. There are fewer languages spoken, fewer games played on the grass, fewer opportunities to share our shore with others.
Plenty of people think that’s great. It’s our beach — paid for by our tax dollars.
Others miss the out-of-town regulars they used to see, and worry we’ve only added to our “elitist” image.
What do you think? Do you love the changes, and think they’re long overdue? Do you think they’re too draconian? Are you conflicted?
Click “Comments” below. And — as always — please keep things civil. Play nice in the sand.