Pickleballers: Beach Bathrooms Don’t Pass The Smell Test

By many measures (though not the weather), this has been a wonderful summer.

Parks and Recreation’s Compo Beach-calming plans minimized crowds, and maximized cleanliness. Innovations like the Mobi-Mat and reworking the entrance road drew raves.

A few more ideas are in the works. A walkway — similar to the one built last year between the pavilion and cannons — is set for South Beach. Bathrooms will replace port-o-potties nearby.

“Nearby” means close to the pickleball area. Constructed a few years ago, the courts have seen steadily increased use.

Compo Beach pickleball courts. Existing bathrooms are far in the background.

Recently, players put down their paddles, picked up pens, and protested Parks and Rec’s plans.

In letters to 1st Selectman Jim Marpe, Parks and Recreation Department director Jen Fava and Parks and Recreation Commission chair Charlie Haberstroh, the pickleballers cite several concerns:

  • The new bathrooms “will block both the lovely views and welcoming air flow/breeze”
  • They’ll “most likely result in unwelcoming smells (sewage related, disinfectant, etc.)”
  • “Staring at the back of a bathroom is not anyone’s idea of a good time.”

One writer argues that moving the location “just 50 feet over would make a huge difference to the 100+ pickleball players in town (with more joining the sport every day!)”

Granted, this is a first world problem. Billions of citizens around the globe have no access to sanitation of any kind — let alone pickleball courts.

But it’s a reflection of the love Westporters have for Compo Beach that the location of new bathrooms creates such a you-know-what storm.

67 responses to “Pickleballers: Beach Bathrooms Don’t Pass The Smell Test

  1. Building up the seashore more and blocking the views of the ocean is something that people of any economic status would care about.

    It would be far better to put a bathroom by one of the mounds near where the kayaks are kept than to put an ugly building between the pickle ball court and the water front. I don’t play pickle ball, but I completely support the players’ position that erecting another building that close to the water detracts from our beautiful water view.

    Westport should not pockmark our oceanfront even more. ~Kristan Hamlin

  2. To note, this has been in planning for almost 2 years (and was formally approved by P&R in November 2017–see 11/16/2017 Dan Woog posting and 30 comments). Seems to me complaints should have been made prior to (or soon after) that point in time.

    • David, I take your point that residents may have missed their best opportunity to express concerns about this pending initiative, but not everyone knows you are the Chairman of the Westport Parks Advisory Committee, a public agency whose members serve at the pleasure of the First Selectman.

      • Morley, As you are aware, the PAC has no jurisdiction/coverage re: Compo (or Longshore for that matter). Our advice is sought only for all the other parks. I am merely stating my view as a Westport citizen, so I’m not sure what you’re getting at.

        • The mechanics of the Parks Advisory Committee remain a little murky to me – and I’ll leave it there. That personal view notwithstanding, I happen to feel public officials, such as yourself, ought to err towards the side of transparency when posting on matters which involve the very department they are associated with. I hope that clarifies things.

          • Charlie Haberstroh

            Morley, It is not murky at all. In its initial charge about 2 years ago, the Parks Advisory Committee’s function is to advise the Parks and Rec Commission and the Parks and Rec Director on all matters relating to all parks EXCEPT for Longshore and Compo. That is because we wanted the PAC to help the town better focus on its parks system and at the same time Compo and Longshore have significant recreational facilities. At the same time we also created the Racquets Advisory Committee to better focus the Town on its racquet sports including the use and the maintenance of the existing facilities as well as focusing on future needs. Both Committees are advisory and have no implementation capability: that is the function of other town commissions and boards (and RTM).

            • Charlie, I’m not totally sure yet how I feel about this business of town officials challenging residents on social media. Some of it sometimes appears close to intimidation. But we’ll set that aside. Besides, I happen to know you and personally admire the way you conduct your public meetings with efficiency and great humor. I also know you know exactly what I meant by my comment. Since the particular park-related controversy we’re (not) talking about remains totally unresolved and continues to cause trouble for Westport residents and wildlife alike, feel free to contact me offline should you ever wish to discuss it. The door is open and I would welcome the opportunity to have a respectful conversation about an appropriate remedy which works for all concerned.

        • Daryl Styner, D.D.S.

          Is the comment just an excuse, that an entire Committee dropped the “ball” and nobody took into account the ideal placement for additional bathrooms without compromising at least one of our town’s most precious assets, which are coastline views! Shame on all of you! And then you claim the general public should have caught your stupidity! Outrageous! Volunteer position or not, this Committee was suppose to safeguard out Town’s Assets, and they all FAILED to do so!

          • Styner, (I am the Chairman of the Parks Advisory Committee) you clearly have no clue what you are talking about, so you might want to avoid your slanderous comments and unsubstantiated opinions in the future. The Parks Advisory Committee (the one I chair) has no JURISDICTION over Compo Beach. Understand? To be clear, the PAC doesn’t meet or discuss ANYTHING about Compo Beach (which includes this topic). The Parks & Rec Commission (it’s a different Committee, see Charlie Haberstroh’s commentary below) covers Compo. Are you still confused?

            • Mr. Floyd,

              I’m not sure what you refer to as being slanderous; however please refrain from such a rude and intimidating response. It detracts from a substantive discussion and is unbecoming from the appointed chair of a committee that serves the public interest. Just my opinion, but it would be respectful to address him as Dr. Styner even if you disagree or believe he has misspoken.

              You are absolutely correct that it would have been best to have “complained” last year. However pertinent information was not available to us at the time, and communication with the public is far from stellar. Not making excuses; just stating facts.

              Be that as it may, we now find ourselves at a crossroad, with more information at our disposal to help us chose a better path together. Like in most situations, it is prudent to re-evaluate when new information arises.

              Don’t you agree that we are actually fortunate that this opportunity has presented itself prior to a very costly mistake being forever engrained? Although an inconvenience, I believe it is propitious.

              I hope we can count on you to help us in a productive fashion.

              • David Floyd (Chairman - Parks Advisory Committee)

                Dr. Walshon, According to Dr. Styner. the Committee I chair (1) “dropped the ball”, (2) failed to “take into account the ‘ideal’ location” (and there do seem to be various opinions on what location is “ideal” so I’m not so sure there is an ‘ideal’ location), (3) needs to be “shamed” for our behavior, (4) has the gall to expect the public to catch our “stupidity” (these actions described as “outrageous”) and (5) failed to safeguard Town assets. If true, they all seem to be pretty serious violations of the trust the Town has put in our Committee and they were leveled very aggressively (four “!”s). Again, after I stated we had no jurisdiction.

                • Mr. Floyd,
                  I truly understand your upset; however I think perhaps Dr. Styner misspoke and was actually referring to the P&R Commission rather than your committee. Most of us (myself included who are not astute to the variety of Westport boards vs. committees) commonly make those errors.

                  In any event, he is entitled to his passionate opinions just as we all are. Perhaps his direction was “off target” but I for one believe that his opinion is as valid as anyones – it is an opinion for others to ponder.

                  Thanks for your reply.

                  Again I hope you understand the valid perspectives those of us “non-politicians” are now bringing forth – even though they may be at “the eleventh hour”. At least it is prior to the “Fat Lady Singing” so to speak.

          • Deborah Greenberg

            well said Daryl. personally I think the towns people all have an agenda.

    • So David’s point is that this project has been pickling for so long that the pickle ballers are in a pickle by raising it at this late date.
      What a pickle this presents.

      But fortunately, if enough voices are raised, like those of Mr. Calise, and Mr. Styner and of all the Westporters who believe that shoreline aesthetics matter, we can tweak the plan slightly to satisfy everyone by moving the building just enough to satisfy both our ocean view BLocking concerns and BLadder concerns.
      There, pickle solved! 🙂

  3. Michael Calise

    The proposed new bathroom directly contradicts it’s purpose. It was originally proposed for south beach usage. Locating it closer to the concession and bathrooms as is proposed diminishes its potential value to south beach. It should be located a few hundred feet further east beyond the proposed location closer to the Kayak racks as Kristan suggests. locating it next to the proposed crossover sidewalk would benefit handicap users of the sidewalk as well.

  4. Daryl Styner, D.D.S.

    As a coastal town, our views of the open coastline is its #1 asset. Without a doubt, any project at Compo Beach, one if many treasured assets to our town, should ALWAYS have views factored into any project consideration. How could this project manager not know that?

  5. Charlie Haberstroh

    This “project” has been vetted publicly by the Parks and Rec. Commission, Conservation Commission, Commission for Disabilities and Planning and Zoning Commission. I also have met privately with the self appointed Pickle Ball Steering Committee and have gone over the reasons for the location both in public sessions of the Parks and Rec. Commission as well as the private session with the Steering Committee. It is no secret.

    The location was chosen to minimize and in fact reduce the impervious footprint at South Beach as requested by the Conservation Dept. Head and the Conservation Commission. It also presents less of an obstruction for views of Long Island Sound than would the site proposed by the Pickle Ballers. There are additional reasons for the current location.

    We have tried to be very sensitive to everyone’s concerns over the last three years of meetings and feel that the proposed location represents the best compromise.

    I would only note that when the then acting director of Parks and Rec Department and I authorized the creation of the existing courts some three years ago, we received a lot of negative feedback because the winds at Compo made it difficult to play pickle ball at the beach and it was difficult to arrange for out of town players to get passes. These concerns seem to have taken a back seat in the current discussions.

    We are committed to create additional pickle ball courts in town and hope that the pickle ball aficionados actively support those efforts.

    Charlie Haberstroh
    Chairman, Parks and Recreation Commission

    • Please see Mr. Calises comment above which makes perfect sense. The P & R’s plan makes no sense at all and is completely contradictory to its purpose. Before anyone builds this structure, which will never be ‘un-done’, even further discussion is needed than what’s taken place already.

  6. Stephanie Bass

    Oh, move the damn bathroom location.

    When I re-fied my mortgage 2 years ago on my cottage on 1/10th of an acre a 1/2 block from the beach, I was told the value would have been $500,000 more if I had a waterview.

  7. How has everyone survived all these years without an additional bathroom building? Walk to the main pavilion or marina bathrooms. Not cool to build anything that has the potential to reduce waterfront views from anyone at the beach. It will stick out like a sore thumb.

    • Charles Haberstroh


      Ask the Commission on Disabilities whether the disabled can make it to the marina or pavilion. Thank God you are able to do that.

      • Charlie
        Are you representing that the Commission on Disabilities is requiring a bathroom at beaches every 100 or so feet? Or that the Commission changed its rules on this during the last few years, prompting construction of new bathrooms in a place we have never had them for over a hundred years? If the Commission is not requiring this bathroom blocking the beach view, did you intend to suggest that above?
        If so, what are you going to do about the beach by Positano’s? Put a bathroom in the parking lot? What about the stretch of land near the north jetty, will you put a toilet there, too?
        My disabled father would far prefer to eat near the Pavillion rather than to make his limitations result in destruction of precious water views for the whole town.
        I certainly sympathize with the view of the pickle ball players, as well as all the people who love to take walks around that loop and have a gorgeous sweeping view of the sea.

  8. After so many years of planning, public forums, and awareness on sites such as 06880 do we only now get a concerted effort from citizens to affect a change to the approved plans? This strikes me as very similar to the skate park “debate” from a few years ago. So many people weighed in that it was essential to keep and yet, I walk through there DAILY and haven’t seen a skate boarder using it in years. Pickle ballers will still have a great court to play on, I’d expect the facility to be sanitary and modern so not sure what the smell issue is – this is not a porta potty proposal!, and they can still see the sound except for the limited horizon that may be blocked by the facility. I’m sure the many more visitors to the south beach, boaters, etc. will appreciate having a bathroom facility closer. And if memory serves, the facility itself is not going to have a large footprint. I believe the recent improvements to Compo have been great and serve the large majority of visitors. This seems like another step in that same direction.

    • Mr. Post,

      Like you I’m at Compo beach almost daily. However unlike your observation, not infrequently I see skate boarders enjoying the facility, especially during the skate park camp. That park is open limited hours so that may explain your observation.

      Anyway, as you say you are often there, I invite you to the pickleball court so you can see exactly what we are talking about first hand and from that perspective. Email me privately to arrange such a meeting. Perhaps then you may change your perspective…if not, you are obviously still welcome to join us on the courts.

  9. Whether it is imperative that we spend over $600,000 (plus expenses of maintenance, vandalism, repairs) on a third Compo restroom facility should be decided by the residents being asked to pay for it, particularly as it has proven difficult to manage and maintain what already exists.

    However, OUR immediate concern is P&R’s imprudent choice of location.

    In full disclosure, I was requested by Tom Lowrie to form a pickleball steering committee with sole agenda promoting this sport amongst all town residents – young to senior. Due to its uniqueness, our players range from 6 to over 90 years of age. Testament to its value to Westport, this sport’s growth has been exponential, fast becoming an activity for ALL to enjoy together. A healthy exercise, it has become a welcome social event, particularly for our senior citizens who have physical limitations preventing them from partaking in the more aggressive activities they once enjoyed.

    Mr. Haberstroh attempts to divert attention by making the restroom location a parochial “pickleball” issue; it is not. Despite our best efforts to represent the interests of all town residents, he still does not understand this is a community issue. Compo beach is a jewel that belongs to town residents, not to the P&R who we entrust prudent stewardship. As Dr. Styner stated, constructing a permanent public restroom facility at that location is poor planning and simply not prudent.

    Mr. Haberstroh’s assertion of “public vetting” omits the most important vetting of all: that by the public. The truth is that crucial information was withheld, and the public was never involved in the choice of location.

    Although the P&R publicly stated on March 13, 2017 that there were two restroom locations being considered, only the “pickle ball” location was presented to the public. On June 15, 2017 the P&R informed the Commission on Disabilities that the restrooms would be located at the pickle ball court despite P&R not approving that location until their November 15, 2017 meeting. An alternative location further west on the gravel parking lot was NEVER presented to the public. Restroom location was not discussed at the April 4, 2018 Flood & Erosion meeting, nor at the April 8, 2018 Conservation Commission meeting. Location options were not even presented to the P&Z on May 17, 2018 for public consideration. Despite numerous queries over many months as to why the pickle ball location was chosen, we were curtly informed “because it was required by the Conservation Commission”. We did not discover that this was untrue until July 2018. It was only on end of day Friday August 17, 2018 that we were finally given the “reasons”, first drafted that same day as to why it was located there – each of which can be satisfactorily addressed to allow a more appropriate location. Contrary to what Mr. Haberstroh wants people to believe, alternative locations can exist – all it takes is desire, will, and leadership.

    For many months we have tried our best, politely and respectfully, to convince Mr. Haberstroh and Mr. Marpe to be reasonable. We have enumerated a multitude of reasons why that location is inappropriate, and informed them that congruous solutions can be found. The P&R’s own Racquets Advisory Committee was not consulted on the restroom location until August 14, 2018, and they too agree the proposed restroom location should be reconsidered.

    Despite our efforts, the P&R chose to remain steadfast, entrenched in contentiousness rather than seeking harmony and working cooperatively. To Mr. Floyd’s and Mr. Post’s comments, it is impossible for the public to make informed comment when information is withheld. Contrary to what they believe, this effort has been ongoing for quite some time. When we met with Mr. Haberstroh on August 9th we did so in the anticipation of finding a mutually satisfactory resolution – what reasonable person would not see the wisdom of that? Now that it is clear that their position is inflexible, it’s time for the public conversation to begin in earnest.

    Contrary to Mr. Haberstroh’s assertion, the P&R has not been sensitive to everyone’s concerns – how could they be when closed door decisions are made and the public is never asked or given opportunity to advise prior to decisions made. That strip of our beach is a precious commodity that should not be squandered. Obstruction of views should have been of paramount importance. With the skate park and pickleball courts it has wisely been delineated as recreational space. It should be reserved as such for future recreational expansion. P&R’s lack of vision and absence of planning is abhorrent.

    This proposed structure will be a permanent mistake that will blemish Compo forever. Town residents need to get involved now, before it is too late.

    Aesthetics, appropriateness, and necessity should be concerns for every town.

    Jay Walshon MD FACEP

    • Daryl Styner, D.D.S.

      Thank you, Dr. Walshon. Thank you for reinforcing the chronology/timeline of how things have “played-out” on this issue thus far. Also, as a result, highlighting clearly the Committee’s lack of transparency & thus lack ability for the public to weigh-in, on such a strategically important decision, as to where to place the additional bathrooms, without blemishing one of Westport’s most precious assests, its coastal ocean views.

  10. Sharon Paulsen

    Wow, lots of comments here on this issue!

    I was wondering, while reading everyone’s take on the aesthetics quandary, if the location “choice” has something to do with the plumbing for the new facility?

    Like, higher costs, if the plumbing lines are farther away from whatever system the main pavilion buildings might be connected to? Perhaps too much disruption to the land, from an environmental standpoint?

    Just thinking outside of the pipe here, heh heh.

    I am sadly no longer a Westport resident (sad face), but I’ve always thought a small outbuilding at the far south end would have been a godsend, back in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s.

    It’s definitely time to build … something … over there!

  11. Brian Bishop

    I live in Westport, pay my taxes and have a beach sticker. Mr. Walshon’s summary seems thorough. The beachfront is really nice, and to Mr. Haberstroh’s point, initial concerns over the location of the courts at the beach have indeed taken a backseat — because the courts are regularly being used! I think this proposal should be reconsidered, small changes in the plan seem like they would make a meaningful difference.

  12. Don L. Bergmann

    I attended the most recent parks & Rec. Comm. meeting at which this matter was raised and discussed. The decision and input from the public was made a long time ago. My personal sense is that Charlie Haberstroh and his fellow Parks & Rec. Commissioners thought the matter through and the decision made probably makes good sense. Personally, I want as few structures at our beaches as possible and have long sought lesser beach side space devoted to parked cars. I lost on my parked car view to thoughtful people such as Michael Calise and others and it may be that the pickle ball folks, a fine group as best as I can tell, may have simply not prevailed on this issue.
    Don Bergmann

    • Don,

      You attended the last P&R meeting in a passionate effort to ensure that the Commission did not pass an egregious regulation preventing you from walking your dog Zelda down Old Mill Road. At the prior P&R meeting you were allowed to passionately plead your case well through the bell-tolling 3 minute time constraint, and your emotional outburst was tolerated – even appreciated by those in attendance recognizing the mistake P&R was about to make. We have never been allowed to speak beyond 3 minutes, and we’ve never created a scene…yet our cause is equally important as yours; perhaps more so as it affects the entire Westport community.

      As I’ve explained, the input from the pubic regarding the location of the restrooms has been hamstrung. On your own personal issue your belief was that the decision Charlie and the P&R were about to make was an error that did not make sense. Mistakes by well intentioned people do happen. Such is this restroom situation.

      Many residents like yourself desire as few structures impacting our beaches as possible. Some residents do not want permanent restrooms at South Beach, but some residents do; how many in each camp has not been determined. Nearing age 70, I appreciate the convenience of having to walk a very short distance to a restroom facility, and having dedicated my entire 40 year medical career to helping the acutely ill, infirm and handicapped, I appreciate their concerns and desires. However this is a beach, and as Kristan Hamlin stated, adequate facilities already exist for everyone who requires them. I believe no other town beach Compo’s size has 3 permanent restroom facilities, nor even more than 1. Michael Calise can tell you with certainty and precision the exact distance between the restroom facilities at our 2 neighboring beaches; neither are even close to what our 2 already are.

      However, to again state clearly, our concern is not the necessity of an additional permanent restroom structure – it is its proposed location. Although some may debate their necessity, no one debates the misguided location.

      I realize that some responses on this blog will be from Charlie’s friends and long time colleagues, such as yourself, in an effort to defend him. That’s fine. However this is not about Mr. Haberstroh. Charlie and the other P&R members have done some great work and their task is not small. However like in your dog-walking situation, in this instance they have simply made a mistake.

      Fortunately with public support, including yours, not only the “pickle ball folks”, the Westport town residents and Compo lovers will prevail on this issue – particularly because we are all one in the same.

      • Charlie Haberstroh

        Jay, In your zeal to have the permanent bathrooms moved, you continually overstate how apparently the Parks and Rec through the lack of transparency has “pulled one over the public”. You state that we did not allow speakers more than 3 minutes. That is not quite accurate. While we do restrict speakers to 3 minutes when it appears that there are a large number of speakers, after everyone has had 3 minutes, we go back and ask if anyone has additional comments. I also gave you and your group a lot of latitude when you brought it up in the non-agenda comment section. Since it was not an agenda item, we are limited by FOIA regulations on what we can discuss. I met with you and the steering committee for 2 hours and agreed to relook at the Conservation Commission and directors comments in light of emails the director sent you. We did and she sent you a letter explaining the situation. Unfortunately the public sessions which you comment on were not attended by members of your group. Apparently others attended, including Michael Calise. Under my guidance the Parks and Rec Commission has been entirely transparent and those who have attended our meetings, some of which were televised to “get the word” out, can attest to this. None of my long term friends have commented in this blog. I have know Don for years and I think it is accurate to say that we respect each other, but to intimate that Don posted because Parks and Rec, in effect granted him a favor, demeans both Don and the commission. We were trying to find an acceptable compromise. We have done the same on the location of the bathrooms. Unfortunately, you don’t agree with the result, but please do not demean the Commission or citizens like Don, with your comments.

        • Charlie,

          As I’ve made perfectly clear to you privately as well as in public forums, my “zeal” has always been to prevent a permanent mistake from being indelibly foisted upon town residents when reasonable alternatives can be found. My reply to Don did not state that his motivation was disingenuous out of favoritism or sense of friendship; I merely pointed out that he recently believed that P&R makes mistakes and was passionate about preventing them, as am I. In his comment, he stated that he wants as few structures as possible but assumed you and the others at P&R based your decision on “good sense”. I don’t dispute that either – it was likely based upon information at hand and some presented perspectives. However, it’s just that the information and perspectives were incomplete; the restroom location decision lacked public perspectives that, for a variety of reasons, has only recently been identified.

          Charlie, please stop trying to divert attention from the issue at hand. I am not disparaging or demeaning anyone. I am not even implying that there was malicious intent on anyone’s part – anyone who believes that is just being defensive or attempting to deflect the issue. I am just stating the facts, which has unfortunately revealed the lack of substantive public involvement when this restroom location was decided. Blaming anyone is not productive. What is productive is for mature, reasonable, likeminded adults to rectify a mistake before it becomes impossible – likeminded meaning having the goal of finding a mutually satisfactory resolution.

          As I said, all it takes is the will, desire and leadership – all qualities that you have demonstrated in the past. All we have been asking you for is the opportunity for us, i.e. the public, to finally help you make a more appropriate decision. Please don’t tell us that it is too late for that.

  13. Steve Slaughter

    I was asked to join a few others on the Pickleball Steering Committee which was recently formed to, amongest many objectives, work with P & R to have the proposed bathrooms relocated. As one who has never been involved in the local political scene, this has been quite an eye-opening experience.

    While Mr. Haberstroh has frequently used the term “compromise” when speaking of the bathroom and its location, what I have witnessed is anything but compromise. To the contrary, what I have witnessed is stated determination to not change the location and behind the scenes manipulation and control by an official who, through his own steadfast convictions can control the outcome, regardless of popular opinions.

  14. Marion Kelly

    I have the upmost respect for someone who has the courage to admit his/her mistake rather than fight to win a point at the expense of doing the wrong thing. Please reconsider your decision regarding the placement of the bathrooms.

  15. Trema Voytek

    In response to David Floyd – while planning has been for almost 2 years, Pickleball has not. It has exponentially grown since December. Many players were not even aware of the footprint of the suggested restrooms until we saw spray paint on the ground this spring. As Jay has pointed out too – all necessary information to make an educated decision was not available. Not all options were presented.

    In response to Charlie Haberstroh – the project “as presented” has been vetted but not all options were open for discussion or rationalization. While you generously met with us, the members of the Pickleball Steering committee you are incorrect when you say you went over the reasons for the location. We asked why and there was no definitive answer given. We asked why it couldn’t be moved and you didn’t give us a definitive answer. Your comment was “I don’t want to go back to square one, I want to get this project going and have it built”. We had conversations with people on the different commissions who said it probably wouldn’t have to go back to square one. You would only have to submit an adjustment to the project. —-When we left you, you agreed to “look into what would be needed to move the restrooms less than 5o feet from the intended site”. —- Well, when we got the memo from the person you were going to contact about that, it appeared that the person was charged with “substantiating the proposed site vs. the site we proposed” and not what needed to be done to move it. The reasons given are now for the “preferred site” but nowhere does it state that it HAS to be there. So, again, why can’t it move? We have solutions for the three or four “reasons” why one site was preferred over the other. You say it represents the best compromise – what compromise are we speaking of?

    As Steve has mentioned – by putting the restrooms in front of the pickleball courts, the future of that strip for activities would be forever lost. Rethink and plan rather than just do to get it done.

  16. Dava Waltzman, PhD

    As a member of the Pickle Ball Committee, I also attended the meeting with Charlie Haberstroh and Karen Hess. Our intent was to provide Charlie rational for considering alternate placements for the restroom that would not be on designated space for recreational purposes. Jay, in a attempt to be collegial, provided Charlie with an email stating that no alternative site had been discussed at the time the decision was made. Charlie then had an opportunity to readdress the placement and instead manipulated the material for his own goal.

    The minutes from the P&Z meeting at which the drafts of the restroom building were presented revealed a very large 13 feet tall building that looks like a barn. Certainly the residents of Westport would not have supported having a barn on their beach.

    Noted throughout the comments above are a community’s love and pride of its coastal beauty. To block the view when there are alternative choices is absurd!

  17. Robbi Feinberg

    I’ve got a pretty simple suggestion. Anyone who believes that the currently proposed restroom location in front of the pickle ball courts is acceptable come join us at the courts on any given day of the week. You will likely see both courts full, with people waiting to rotate in at the picnic tables. There will be lots of friendly faces, a wide range of ages and athletic abilities, all of us completely loving a relatively new sport that we can enjoy together . Many of us have been known to hand complete strangers extra racquets and turn them onto the sport as well!

    So, come down to the courts and spend some time there, perhaps hit the pickle ball for a while with us. Then decide it you loved playing this game as much as we do, and if you spent several days at the beach playing, would you want the bathrooms right there in front of the courts?

    Please reconsider the restroom location. There must be so many more suitable locations. Thanks in advance, Robbi

  18. Louise Bromberger

    Enjoying pickleball and the views at the same time is the best. There are over 100 Westport residents using the pickleball courts at Compo Beach in the designated recreation area..Why would the town put a bathroom adjacent to this area when it could be moved a few feet over and maintain the views as well as the fun atmosphere?

  19. Sandra Howard

    We Westporters are so lucky to have our beautiful beach with it’s panoramic water views. I am not a pickle ball player, but have been enjoying Compo Beach for over 40 years. It’s not clear to me why an additional bathroom needs to be built at all, much less one in the currently planned location. My opinion is that the fewer structures there are to block the views the better. But if enough residents have determined that we are in real need of a third bathroom, please consider the suggestion at the top of the page to locate it by the kayak stands. Also, I would hope that any structure that is decided to be added is in keeping with the existing ones we have. I’m definitely also hoping that the design motif is not a barn.

  20. William Strittmatter

    What sort of a sport is pickle ball? I mean, aside from maybe golf, most sports competitors need to be focused on the game rather than lazing and gazing at their surroundings. If you don’t really need to pay attention to play pickle ball, sounds like something I might be good at. 🙂

    • Marion Kelly

      C’mon down and laze and gaze with us, William! Along the way you’ll get great exercise, have tons of fun and make new friends all while enjoying the panoramic views.

    • Funny WIlliam!

      Since you mentioned golf, here is an article for you:
      Is Pickleball For You? The little racket sport that’s taking the golf world by storm. – USAPA Pickleball

      Tiger Woods’ former golf instructor Hank Haney is now one of the 2.8 million United States pickleball addicts, and this article will explain it all to you.

      Imagine permanently placing a busy restroom/outdoor shower building adjacent to a tennis court in the direct view of the players, with its flow of traffic, moving distractions, loud noises, etc. It would never be tolerated. Imagine placing a building between players and the ocean view at Pebble Beach – never happen…and so unnecessary.

      Why obstruct the beautiful view?

      And most importantly as has been repeatedly stated, why permanently squander precious real estate which should be better utilized for further recreational purposes when it is quite unnecessary? With a modicum of vision, you will realize that there are so many better uses of that space that will retain the view that everyone has enjoyed for a hundred years. Why ruin that forever?

      As Marion said, come on down and we will show you what its all about first hand.

  21. Caroline Walshon

    Mr. Haberstroh,

    I just had the opportunity to read your reply to Jay.

    Please stop trying to divert the issue that, thankfully, he has brought up. He has never “demeaned” anyone and has never implied that the intent of the P&R was to “pull one over the public”. Repeatedly he has stated that your choice of location was just a “mistake” – hence not an intentional “scheme”. He has been patient and respectful over many months of trying to elicit information that was either withheld or misrepresented. You did in fact limit comment to three minutes, and you did stifle public debate at the public P&R meeting which I attended specifically to discuss the restroom location. Your meeting with the Pickleball Steering Committee was conditioned upon having no minutes, giving you the ability to misstate its purpose. Your excuses ring hollow in the face of the facts, which have not been “overstated”.

    Regardless of the “process” you use to hide behind, the fact remains that “Non-Picklers” also do not agree with your restroom location decision either, so please stop singling out our Pickleball community. I also urge you to stop being stubborn for the sake of expediency. Please just be reasonable and agree to relocate the restrooms as so many residents have repeatedly urged you to do via emails, in meetings, in person, and in social media.

    Why does your Commission insist on permanently flawing the precious gem, Compo Beach, when it is so unnecessary?

    Caroline Walshon

  22. Dava Waltzman, PhD

    Bravo Caroline

  23. Bart Shuldman

    I just read all the comments and truly at a loss-there has been no reasonable and justifiable explanation as to WHY the bathrooms cannot be moved. A lot of noise as to who said what, what was said or not said at a meeting or two, but nothing that demands the bathrooms be in the chosen location.

    To my friend Charlie-please move the bathrooms unless you can state a technical and environmental reason why they must stay where they are proposed. Please.

    • Michael Calise

      Thank You Bart, There can not be any meaningful issues here regarding environmental or technical. The Beach is a flat site of gravel and sand without wetlands. “Moving” the lines even a few hundred feet one way or the other will have minimal impact on the project. The only reason the bathrooms are being built is to minimize walking distance for south beach users. The principal task that should have been undertaken was a determination of walking distances to proposed locations from a series of spots on south and west beach to fix the ideal spot. Given the desire for an additional bathroom facility in a convenient south beach location this is the only approach that should have been considered. Had that been done I am certain the proposed location would have been a few hundred feet West (toward the Kayak racks)

    • Mr. Shuldman,

      Micheal Calise’s posting is not only wise, it also raises another crucial issue – that of process. On March 31, 2015 the P&R “recommended the introduction of restrooms for the convenience of South Beach users”. Obviously costs were not yet known, and whether or not spending over $600,000 (not including significant perpetual maintenance and repair expenses) for this convenience, now that fiscal realities have evolved, has yet to be determined or even discussed.

      Regarding process: When a problem is alleged by anyone, the first order of business is to determine it’s veracity and then quantify its extent. The desire of 63 residents on March 31, 2015 is hardly a resounding endorsement in a town of over 27,000 people; certainly there are inexpensive, even cost-free methods available to town officials to canvass the residents at large to determine if an expensive and/or impact-full initiative is truly desired or needed. For some reason this important step seems to never be desired, instead preferring to rely on tedious “public meetings” that most residents aren’t even aware of, and for a multitude of reasons are unable to attend. However, this lack of pertinent information is the most common cause of errors and engenders unintended consequences.

      Regardless, once a problem is identified and quantified, the next step is to develop a set of solutions TARGETED SPECIFICALLY to resolve the problem identified. As Mr. Calise astutely points out, the initially identified problem has been overlooked, and the appropriate efforts to resolve it were apparently never undertaken.

      Furthermore, although the P&R may have been given the recommendation to introduce restrooms to South Beach, they were not authorized to dictate its location without public approval. Multiple options targeted to resolving the presented problem should have been developed and presented for public discussion and decision. The public should be intimately involved in the decision-making process rather than being “apprised” of decisions after they are made. The conventional process that engenders lack of public involvement is why we are in this situation today.

      I understand the importance of having representative government – it is crucial for efficiency and expediency. However, having been responsible for countless policies and procedures at the local, regional and state levels for over 3 decades, I learned that although making decisions within our own confined group was more efficient and expedient, far better outcomes often resulted when we broadened our guidance to include the perspectives of those directly impacted (such as the nurses, the EMS providers, and yes the patients who we served and ultimately have the greatest at stake) prior to finalizing and implementing our designs. Obviously not for everything, which would result in paralysis by analysis; but for things with significant impact upon those we represented. A more tedious, exasperating and potentially contentious process, but one more gratifying in the end. Private organizations may have the luxury of dictating decisions if so desired; however those who serve the public interest as I did, should not.

      After reviewing the history behind what has happened, it appears to me that the P&R took the March 2015 recommendation to heart; however over the course, being so concerned with getting through the town’s arduous, sometimes contentious bureaucratic approval process, decisions were made without concentrating on the primary objective of ensuring a targeted solution that satisfied all perspectives rather than the variety of boards and commissions. Fortunately are now in the position to fix that if we take the opportunity to do so.

      I listed the only reasons given to us for the current location proposal – as Mr. Calise points out, none of which are insurmountable by any stretch of the imagination. However what has NOT been listed are the 17 (and growing) reasons we have cited for relocating them – which I will gladly do if requested. In addition to its location, in my humble opinion the design of this facility proposal needs also to be re-examined by the public before funding is approved.

      Mr. Calise is correct. The proposed location is not the targeted solution they were charged with in 2015. Now that information is available to the public (costs, design, site requirements, FEMA regulations, etc.) the public should be given opportunity to revisit this issue and make the final determinations prior to any appropriation. The P&R should be obligated to present their recommendations to the public for their approval prior as this is not a misguided regulation that can be readily revoked or revised.

      A Related Observation: instead of being paramount, aesthetics too often gives way to expediency. Look at the caution-tape at South Beach’s west end since last week. A crime scene? A warning to not enter for fear of sinkholes or shark? No. I discovered that this is P&Rs method of preventing automobiles from parking too far onto the sand. Embarrassing.

      • Bart Shuldman

        I am at a loss as to why Charlie has not posted the technical or environmental reasons why the bathrooms cannot be moved. He decided to join in this conversation and post, yet now he decides to stay quite and not inform the Westport taxpayer of the reason(s).

        The one thing he should avoid, taking a ‘no change’ position and then the bathrooms are built and others in Westport take notice and question what just happened. It is always better to be upfront and open and not let this continue.

        Of course, JMHO.

        • Charlie Haberstroh

          Unfortunately, I’m on vacation with my family in North Carolina. I did not intend to spend my entire vacation dealing with this just because Dan decided to post this in his blog on August 21. I thought my comments were reasonable, but obviously in the era of social media, NOW is the key word. NOW doesn’t work for me. I have read all of every comment.

          • Bart Shuldman

            Seems like we got our answer-there is no technical or environmental reason not to move the bathrooms. Charlie could post his avoidance decision but could not answer the question? Huh??

  24. Eric E. Bosch

    Mr. Haberstroh- Please move the bathroom, and stop spoiling the beach with the relentless campaign to spoil EVERY view and vista with a sign, and now another structure.
    By all measure, our society has become more intelligent since I moved here in 1963. So why is there a need to increase the number of signs from what use to be a few, to now over 320?
    A Beach means the sea, the sand & the sky, not 25 “Emblem Parking Only” signs, which are pointless and visual trash for 3 quarters of the year.
    Please remove 30% of the signs in the beach and Longshore areas? Thank you.

  25. A most excellent question Mr. Shuldman, and one we had repeatedly asked for months, being told only that the Conservation Commission “required” that it be there. However when I checked the April minutes of the Conservation Committee approval meeting I discovered that there was no location discussion, despite the P&R previously stating that there were 2 locations under consideration – the other one being on the gravel lot area. Therefore I spoke with the Conservation Director who informed me that it was untrue that they “required” it be the pickleball location, and in fact she preferred the gravel lot location. Most importantly, we were also informed that the restroom location COULD be moved; however it would simply take an application modification by the P&R. We have all these conversations documented. Thus began a series of questions and search for answers.

    When we informed Mr. Haberstroh of the opportunity to relocate the restrooms and satisfy everyone, he remained adamant that he did not want to do this because it might “delay” the project. At the August steering committee meeting which he refers to, he reluctantly agreed to ask the Conservation Director how to go about modifying the application in order to move the location; however that is not what happened. Instead, he requested the Director to retroactively “Substantiate” their pickleball location. Therefore it was not until AUGUST 17, 2018, when the Director said she re-evaluated the location options, that anyone in the public received a list of reasons why the pickleball location was chosen:

    1. The gravel lot location would create more impervious surface on currently unpaved surface.
    2. Several trees might be cut rather than possibly one.
    3. Some of the asphalt will be removed at the pickleball location
    4. The other location creates “greater disturbance” needing more erosion and sediment control
    5. Both locations require flood proofing to meet FEMA standards

    To reiterate, this was the FIRST TIME anyone in the public had the alleged reasons for the choice of site location, despite us being told in July that in fact the alternative location was possible, even preferable, and despite the fact that this list of reasons did not exist until now. The conservation Director also stated that the alternative location was still “feasible”, and still did not state that the pickleball location was “required”.

    As I said, the above stated reasons, which only now have come to light, deserve public scrutiny and discussion. Alternative locations ARE possible; all it takes is the will and desire to get it done. Although this is not the forum to have this discussion, it is obvious to everyone that this retrospective list can readily be addressed by people so motivated, and adequate solutions found. That would actually not be difficult to do. The “additional impervious” footprint required at the gravel lot location is miniscule and can readily be addressed in multiple ways. The greater disturbance compared with what is proposed is questionable at best, and can also be mitigated. And having to maybe remove some trees that can be replanted as a major reason the town residents should be forever impacted by a poor location choice – are you kidding? In fact the alternative location might reduce distances of disturbance for running lines, might not require a problematic rain garden, and might actually be less expensive. The public was never given a drawing of that alternative site plan, and there were no comparative reports generated. The public was not afforded an opportunity for input into the location decision.

    It is now time for the location discussion to begin, and for us to work together to find a mutually satisfactory resolution to this… it is not difficult to do, and would not take much time. The proposed pickleball location is not “required”, therefore we should work together immediately to resolve this. There is an avenue available to us to do so before it is too late.

  26. I have read all the comments on the issue of the location of the restrooms. There were many excellent points made. Some people reject the need for spending almost 1.0 million dollars for walkways and restrooms. That is not my issue. My only concern is the location of the restrooms. It is hard for me to believe that the only good location for the restrooms is in front of the pickleball courts. This area has long been used for recreational purposes. Putting the restrooms in the middle of a recreational area is outrageous when you could easily move it 50 feet in the unused gravel area impacting no one. What was P&R thinking when they made this decision? They should not blame the public for coming out late to object to a location that never should have been selected in the first place. Picking the right site was their job, and they blew it.
    Many residents have expressed their opinion that placing the restrooms in the middle of this recreational site would destroy the views; however, the bigger issue is that constructing the restrooms on this recreational site would destroy the ability to construct new pickleball courts and or other appropriate recreational uses of the site.
    Since this proposal is only partially approved, it is not too late for the town officials to do the right thing and move the bathrooms to a better less impactful location. Don’t make a Huge Mistake that is forever.

  27. Christine Brewer

    This really isn’t that hard! Just move the bathrooms to a location that does not compromise the surroundings and potential expansion of the current site.
    For those that have the ability to make, change, and/or execute on this decision, simply come down to view and experience what folks are talking about. Quickly you will come to the same conclusion that the proposed spot makes no sense at all given the myriad of reasons shared in all the comments and seeing the many other location options available. I encourage those in charge to listen to the feedback from their fellow Westporters who care the most about this. Compo Beach is truly a gem and we want to see it grow for all to enjoy!

  28. Faith Schachne

    Being new to pickleball and the pickleball community in Westport, I can see why it is growing quickly in popularity. It is fun and the pickleball community is friendly and most welcoming! Westport is fortunate to have the two courts at Compo Beach and I could see the community wanting to expand and create more courts in the future. After reading all of the comments here, I have not read any environmental reason why moving the proposed bathroom location is not being considered and am not sure why the proposed bathrooms cannot be moved to another location.

  29. Although I have not seen the proposed design for the bathrooms at issue, some have commented that it is contextually inappropriate. Notwithstanding the fact that the property is listed on the National Register Historic Places (the pavilion being the historic bit), I would have expected the new structure to have adopted some of the stylistic language of the pavilion in an effort to provide visual continuity. It’s disappointing to learn that perhaps this is not the case.

  30. Wendy Macbeth

    Oh for goodness sake, move the bathrooms 50 feet and get on with life. Stop wasting everyone’s time arguing about it. Just do it.

  31. To all who object to the location of these bathrooms:

    The RTM would have to approve funding for this project. I would suggest that you bring your objections about the obstructive location of these bathrooms to the RTM. They can vote down funding if they agree with you. All who object to the proposed location should write to the RTM at this email address: RTMMailingList@westportct.gov

  32. Constance Crowley

    Why would anyone want outside toilets so close to where they picnic and for that matter play a sport? Another large building, whether it is used for storage or has more bathrooms, will be an eyesore so close to our beautiful beach. Please move those toilets to the south end by the kayaks…a short walk for a little relief.

  33. Update: all those wishing to express their concerns about the current proposed location of the bathrooms should attend and speak at the following two pubic meetings:

    1. On Wednesday, September 5th at 7:30 pm, the Board of Finance is meeting to vote upon the following:

    Item #9: Upon the request of the Director of Parks and Recreation, to approve an appropriation of $840,000.00 along with bond and note authorization to the Municipal Improvement Fund Account 30508810-500150 to replace the current porta-johns with permanent restrooms containing 3 ADA compliant restrooms and a storage room near Compo’s South Beach.

    2. On the evening of October 2nd, the above described item should come before our RTM for a vote as well. As always, the pubic is free to speak.

  34. Please reconsider the location of the bathrooms so they do not obstruct the view of our beautiful beach and be an eyesore for residents who play pickleball and skateboard.

  35. Dava Waltzman, PhD

    Eric E. Bosch opened my eyes as I drove into Compo Beach this morning to play pickle ball. Indeed an obscurd number of signs obstructi the view of the magnificent Westport coastal vista. Why has this become practice? Were the residents of Westport ever asked for their voice on this and other decisions regarding Compo Beach? One would hope that Westport still believes in a democracy! Move the bathroom designation and consider alternative solutions such as state of the art Porto potties.

    • Leslie Gallant

      I am one of those Westport residents who has been bitten by the pickle ball bug and have enjoyed playing the sport at Compo Beach. I echo the feelings of my fellow players in that I would like the town to reconsider the location of the new bathrooms at South Beach. I was originally opposed to the bathrooms, because I didn’t think we needed them. When my kids were small and needed to be near a bathroom, we sat and played on East Beach. When my 95-year-old mother used to stay with us, we sat and enjoyed East Beach so that she could be near a bathroom if she needed it. It was no big deal; we sat where we needed to sit for our specific needs. But as I have sat through a year’s worth of Parks and Rec meetings as Co Leader for Friends of Compo Beach, I believe that a small bathroom on South Beach would be nice for the disabled and those who need it. I must admit, that when discussions occurred last year, I was wrongly under the impression that the bathrooms would be somewhere nearer to the placement of the current port-a-potties nearer to the section of the grassy parking lot that has been segregated for the day pass parking. It wasn’t until last fall at a P+R meeting when the plans were unveiled that I realized that I was mistaken. In my opinion, if the new bathrooms were to be placed in that area of existing port a potties/grassy parking area rather than next to the pickle ball courts, not only would you make the pickle ballers happier, it would be closer and be better served by the South Beach beach goers and the disabled, the kayak and sail boat users. Moving the bathroom out of the pickle ball area allows for future expansion of more recreational facilities. If the new bathroom were to be located closer to the day pass lot, then our residents and visitors will be closer to their cars and they can shower off and “hit the head” before they “hit the road.”

      I know that our town officials have taken a lot of time and energy towards this project. I’m not sure of the vision the town has for Compo in the next five years. Placement of bathrooms, courts of all types, sidewalks and play areas need careful planning and I hope the vision and the plans are practical, thoughtful and in the best interest of all.

  36. Marcia. McGee

    I think we need more pickle ball courts and reconsider moving the bathrooms to a different area.

  37. Monica Sadlowski

    Surely there have been sufficient questions raised to at least warrant a second look at this proposal and a re-evaluation of the alternatives. The decision makes no sense at present, as it is dubious that it will meet the needs of South Beach users despite effectively ruining the area around the Pickleball Courts.

  38. Stephanie Ross

    What a thought I had about the restrooms at the South Compo Beach pickle ball courts:

    The other day, I went to Joey’s By the Sea to get some lunch. I came out and sat at one of the tables and looked out onto the beach and the sound. What a great view. Then I thought, what if there was a 26 foot by 20 foot, by 13 feet tall restroom structure right on front of where I was sitting, with men, women and children going in and out, the doors opening and closing, or maybe open the way some of the restrooms currently are (no complaint bout the current status)? You may think, ”That’s a ridiculous vision. Who would put restrooms there?” “Uugh!”

    Yes, I realize no one would suggest that. However, that is what is being suggested for the front of the pickle ball courts between the courts, and the beach and the sound. That size structure in that location.

    There are other suitable places and structures for restrooms at South Compo Beach, many discussed in previous posts. Please reconsider the location and the structure used for our beautiful beach, and allow pickle ball players to enjoy their games and the view. and put the rest rooms somehwhere else at South Compo Beach.