Town Closes Beach Playground, Parking Lot

First selectman Jim Marpe says:

First of all, thank you to all our Westport residents for your cooperation during these unprecedented times.

Many of you have self-isolated in order to flatten the curve and curb the spread of COVID-19. I appreciate your actions.

Unfortunately, we believe you will need to do even more for the foreseeable future. Given the early spring-like weather, many of you have taken advantage of our beautiful Compo Beach and have congregated there.

We must remind you that congregating, even outdoors, in small or large groups, is contradictory to the advice of our Health Department leadership.

As a practical matter, we cannot close the entire access to Compo Beach.  However, we will be closing the playground at Compo Beach and the parking lots at Compo Beach and Burying Hill beach until further notice.

Whether you are using the beaches or just trying to get out of the house for a while, please do everything you can to practice social distancing and self-isolation.

Together we can minimize the impact of this terrible virus on our community. We have to work together and use common sense. Thank you in advance for your cooperation in these difficult times.

You can still go to Compo Beach. But the playground and parking lot are closed. (Photo/John Videler for Videler Photography)

38 responses to “Town Closes Beach Playground, Parking Lot

  1. Why isn’t Old Mill Beach being closed except for Compo Mill Cove and Old Mill Residents?

    • Ray O'Sullivan

      Quit your crying, our governor closed ALL of our ski area in Colorado. It’s 2 beaches, IN THE WINTER TIME! ! ! Just hope this madness is over by May 31st.

      • Dear Mr. O’Sullivan,
        I was asking why Old Mill Beach wasn’t included in the decree.
        How is Ned Lamont connected to Colorado? I am not following you, unless you are not a resident of Connecticut.

  2. Kudos to the town’s leaders for taking this difficult but necessary step. We now need to support them by understanding and practicing social distancing.

  3. Patrick Eastin

    Be well, Westporters.

  4. Arlene Gottlieb

    The closing of the parking lots at Compo and Burying Hill is absurd. Our wonderful Westport beaches are a place of peace and splice and provide an opportunity for much needed fresh air and exercise. With all the Covid 19 directives we must still be allowed to maintain our ability to be in charge of ourselves to act responsibly. Please rethink this directive. Arlene K Gottlieb Sent from my iPhone


    • Carole Bernstein

      Closing the beach parking lots is nothing short of absurd. Reverse the decision. Mayor DeBlasio is not closing Central Park.

      • I love your comments Carole. I couldn’t agree with you more completely. Let’s not get to a point where everybody’s running around with their hair on fire. Act like responsible adults and keep your distance when at the beach. Enjoy our beautiful park system and we will all get through this. Closures of parking to limit access to Compo Beach is ridiculous plain and simple. People who agree with this decision and have lost their marbles..

        • Michelle Benner

          Please Read:
          Article is about exponential spread and how things seem okay until they aren’t.

          Also, the beach is not closed, only the parking lots. And no, it is not elitist but merely the luck of the draw. It’s sunny and beautiful out today, you can enjoy that wherever you are. Look at what is happening in the world: millions of children and college students are home from school, countries are shutting down, borders are closing, once healthy people are dying, our vulnerable populations are at risk like never before, businesses are closing everywhere. We are so lucky to live in this beautiful town with beach access. The beach will be here for us long after the virus is gone. For anyone thinking they can continue to carry on and do the things they normally like to do out in public is foolish, misguided and irresponsible, both for themselves and our community. I know that sounds harsh but we have to suck it up and take extreme measures NOW to prevent disaster in our community. Yes, this is nuts. Everything that’s happening is completely nuts.

  5. I agree with Arlene. This is nuts! Sun and warm temperatures are said to weaken Covid-19. All but the hormone-crazed can manage to keep their distance. Are the parks next? Winslow Park not big enough for the people coming out of the 20 cars in the lot? I’ve seen as many as four people at a time in Grace Solomon Park. Horrors. Let’s rethink this.

    • Viruses might naturally not be as viable in warmer temperatures or sun, but being outdoors, in warmer weather, or sun, does not magically protect you or kill the virus. If it is airborne, someone near by that is infected can introduce it into the surrounding air and it can linger.

  6. Bruce Schneider

    Honestly, closing the playground makes sense. Preventing parking is ridiculous. Many of us are hunkering down and properly obeying “social distancing” when we are out and around others. I would suggest that our town leaders consider the need of our residents to get out of our houses, walk on the beach or sit in their cars and watch the water or read and relax. I do not think there was adequate consideration to the psychological needs of our residents. Surely, if the desire is to discourage congregating at the beach in groups there are other means to make this happen. These include making repeated Public Address announcements or having police or recreation staff walk the beach and ask people not to congregate. I do not think this draconian step is leadership. Let’s keep getting the word out on “social distancing” and reverse this ridiculous parking ban!!

  7. Good. I fully support the town’s decision. It is incredibly ignorant and selfish for all these people to be congregating in large groups. The parking lot was almost full, and yes, it’s a big parking lot — so yes, it was a congregation of a lot of people which is counter to the objective of social distancing. And the playground area is a concentrated space. It is absolutely frightening to see what’s happening in Italy and Spain, and if people here don’t start taking it seriously, it’s going to happen here next. If you want to go out for a walk, walk around your neighborhood — there is absolutely no need to go to Compo. It is absolutely infuriating to see all these people put the broader population’s lives at risk.

  8. Wendy Cusick

    I think this is just a little extreme…
    Many just sit in their cars and enjoy the view, sounds of the beach, the birds and the waves.
    Yes, I did observe Compo Beach parking packed the other day. I didn’t go in.
    In all honesty, closing the beach will not stop people from doing something.
    It will push more people plus kids and pets to Soundview Dr and surrounding streets. They will probably visit surrounding neighboring towns Norwalk, Fairfield, Weston, Wilton etc parks and beaches. Those municipalities don’t need more people added to their own concerns of COVID-19.
    Just my thoughts on the matter….
    Westport government and Health district might want to rethink this…

    • Closing the playground makes sense but forbidding parking and thence walking in the fresh air a safe distance from others is a prescription for boosting endorphins. Please reconsider your understandable over reaction.

  9. Michelle Benner

    Please stop complaining, please stay home and save lives! We have to do this together, it sucks but we must be vigilant or we will be another Italy. Please heed the warnings. It is our social obligation to protect ourselves and each other by not congregating. This virus is highly contagious, more than many people realize. You can get fresh air and sun in your own yard or walking down the block. We have to do this, please, citizens of Westport, Please Stay Safe and Stay Home.

  10. Michelle Benner

    And by the way, many people are ignoring the warnings. People around town continue to get together despite public announcements, data, news and dire warnings from other countries. Clearly the public announcements are not enough. There are many who still think it’s okay to congregate, have their kids meet up, play on the playground. This must stop NOW. Draconian measures at this point are warranted and necessary. I applaud and am deeply thankful for Westport’s leaders for taking this decisive step to help protect the citizens of our community. Please everyone do your part. Sacrifices need to be made in the short term for the long term goal of flattening the curve and not overwhelming our healthcare system so sick people can get the treatment they need.

  11. Donna Rosenfeld

    Oh, come on. Post a patrol car to keep people from congregating on the sand, but let people park to enjoy the water views. I’ve been in my house for days and I had hoped to just sit by the beach and relax for a little while, alone, in my car, maybe with my book. Please rethink this. It’s a bit over the top.

  12. Bob Weingarten

    Just one question. Are we also stopping families from using the playgrounds at all our closed schools and religious sites. Do we have enough police to turn away parents and children – who need an outlet to exhaust their energies. More people congregate in grocery stores than at the beach playgrounds and therefore we should restrict shoppers, because of the number of people that are at the stores. We really need sensible restrictions and these are not those.

    Maybe we need to restrict people from walking at Main Street since they may come in contact with other residence. Also, naturally if we restrict people from Compo, we all need restrictions on walkers, with their dogs, from Soundview Drive. We need caution about the spread of this virus but we should also realize that live needs to continue and these restrictions are not warranted.

    • Bob, using playgrounds at schools without permission could technically be trespassing.

  13. Michael Calise

    This is absurd. People need to take responsibility for their own actions. Government intrusion in private lives is uncalled for in a free society, Or is it?

    • The government has the ability to set rules during emergencies. Martial law etc. So we could very well not be living in a free society any day now. There are so many stupid people out and about. I was shopping for groceries and people were coughing , not covering their mouths. People ran like there was an active shooter from the coughers. I saw people shaking hands, hugging, etc , when running into people at the grocery store. Also tons of groups of kids since school was out Friday and noticed kids grouping together today too. Seriously dumb stuff and these people should be ashamed. Personally we opted to go to a less crowded beach in a neighboring town to walk the dog as we wanted to stay away from the masses.

      • I agree. Common sense measures are better than government “controls.” The risk indoors is exponentially greater than outdoors where the sun, the wind and open air make contagion much less likely. Balancing risk appropriately, based on these measures, it makes much more sense to ban all indoor public venues than to shut the beach down and I am not suggesting we do that.

    • No, Michael, government “intrusion” is not uncalled for in a free society. A free society DEPENDS on government to see that one person’s freedom does not impinge on another”s.

    • I don’t know that this is the best idea, but sensible regulations are absolutely necessary.

      If the only person to get sick is the dogmatic civil libertarian who wants to take responsibility for his own actions and complain about the government, I got no problem with it. Unfortunately, that dogmatic civil libertarian is likely to spread the virus to others through his irresponsibility.

      That cavalier attitude of dogmatic civil libertarians is why Coronavirus has spread in the country and why we have no idea of the degree of the spread.

  14. Bob Stalling

    Thinking ahead, I believe the State should close the parking lots at all Court Houses and at all Motor Vehicle Department facilities…but keep the buildings open.
    Be careful….if you complain, you may be labeled as ignorant and selfish.
    My opinion.

  15. I understand the urgency of the situation and closing the playground, but closing the parking lot is not the solution here. Now only residents who live in walking distance will be able to utilize the beach? It comes across very elitist. People will just park somewhere else… you can safely walk outside without spreading the virus, and the longer this goes on the more people will need some fresh air.

  16. Betsy P. Kahn

    Amazing photo…. we need Escape✨✨
    Dan would you consider a post for interesting things to do during this time?

  17. Rosemary Dill

    The purpose of closing the schools is to create a distance so the virus won’t be spread, not to give kids more beach time. In my daughter’s neighborhood
    In Newburyport, MA, parents have initiated a play in your own yard pact.

  18. Bruce Schneider

    I accept that the goal of the ban is to eliminate crowding by preventing people from parking, perhaps a way to meet the goal and still allow people to get some enjoyment out of the beach is to allow access/parking on an odd/even basis. If the last number of your license plate is odd then you can access/park on odd days and then the same for even plates. Alternatively, just limit the number of cars allowed in at a particular time. Access should be limited to Westport resident cars and if that is not possible Connecticut cars. In the current plan, there will need to be enforcement, this alternative allows enforcement but still allows some enjoyment of the beach.

    I know that rules and enforcement can’t prevent stupidity such as group gatherings. The people who do not follow “social distancing” are the same folks doing the same at the stores, having parties, sleep overs and play dates. It is important to stress that during this crisis, “social distancing” has to be the new (hopefully temporary) normal. When we need to go to a grocery store, queuing up close to the people in front of you misses the point.

  19. Michael Nayor

    Lots of strong comments! My wife and i drove around town yesterday to see what was happening. The Post Road. Main Street. Compo. It was crowded everywhere. To our astonishment people were shopping not just in grocery stores. Clusters of people was the norm. But worst of all was Compo where a Spring celebration seemed to be taking place. Obviously people just don’t get it. And while libertarians may wish that individuals be free to do exactly what that want when they want to, this has to be tempered so that the risk to others in minimized.
    So kudos to Jim Marpe. Others should take note. Especially parents whose older children are meandering everywhere with nothing to do. I was in Stop & Shop yesterday evening and saw groups of teens and pre-teens going up and down aisles and manhandling items for no reason. There was no supervision by adults and no management surveillance. Store management should take note.
    keep safe everyone and if you are reckless with yourself doesn’t give you the right to be reckless with the welfare of others.

  20. Michelle Benner

    Please read this article from a hospital in Teaneck, NJ to put it all into perspective:

    Please remember: Corona Virus is in our community. Once it’s in a community it spreads rapidly. We should all assume we have it or our children are carrying it, and we need to act like we don’t want to spread it. Covid-19 kills not just the elderly and vulnerable but also healthy middle aged people.

  21. Limiting available parking spaces (or the above mentioned odd-even parking) while closing access to playgrounds and ‘group’ activity spaces might be a better way to deter risky behavior while allowing limited public access to wide-open spaces where they can easily avoid direct contact with other people and minimize the spread of the virus.

    It seems to me that a more helpful action would be for the WWHD to establish new capacity limits for businesses that are overcrowded and contact is rampant. I mean, Stop & Shop is packed with people in an enclosed space – I’d be far more concerned about 200 customers plus staff in that 50,000 square foot store than I would be with 200 people spread out on the 29 acres of Compo Beach.

  22. Michelle Benner

    Still need convincing to stay home? Please read this cautionary and moving story from Italy published in The Boston Globe:

  23. I have always been told that when it comes to emergency services the key is speed. Implementing rapid action without regard to diplomatic sensibilities is the key to safety. With that in mind, I support Jim Marpe and our town leaders to close the parking lots at town beaches. I have attached an article which is the most thorough I have seen in regards to the covid 19 pan epidemic.