Steve Axthelm: Build The Skate Park!

Steve Axthelm is one of those unheralded, overlooked, under- (as in “non-“) paid volunteers who make Westport what it is.

He served for many years on the Parks & Recreation Commission, and the board of Westport Baseball & Softball. His goal was to give everyone an opportunity to play sports, have fun, and enjoy Westport’s amenities.

Two weeks ago — when the sale of his house closed — Steve resigned from both posts. He and his wife Laura headed to North Carolina.

Steve Axthelm, with his skatebaords.

Here’s his final message to Parks & Rec — and to the town he’s loved, and given so much to:

“It has been an honor to serve on the Westport Parks & Recreation Commission. I’m proud of what we have accomplished together, and think we have been an example of a group that puts serving the community over politics or personal desires.

“I’m especially pleased with what we were able to accomplish at Compo Beach, especially the walkways and the bathroom on South Beach to provide accessibility and enjoyment to all. The stewardship and improvement of the town’s parks and sports facilities has been steadfast. Thanks go to Charlie Haberstroh and my fellow commissioners, and to Jen Fava and her team for outstanding work over the years.

“One regret: we did not get the skate park done. It is severely outdated, and an eyesore at Compo. No other sports group has to use such a poor facility in Westport.

The Compo Beach skate park.

“A beautiful concrete skatepark will be an enhancement to Compo and a boon to a robust skateboarding community. Skate Camp counselor Gabriel Dick and Skate Camp director James Bowles will rally the skateboarding community for fundraising.

James Bowles and Gabe Dick, at a rally 8 years ago to save the Compo skate park.

“In the past skateboarding was an afterthought, and participants were sometimes characterized as misfits (hmmm, I was a skateboarder when I was a grommet, inventing gnarly moves to grind the dinosaurs). It is simply a great sport in which to hone athleticism and creativity. And now it is an Olympic Sport.

“Our skateboarders and our town deserve this. Let’s get it built!

Skate park at a beach.

12 responses to “Steve Axthelm: Build The Skate Park!

  1. Matthew Mandell

    Good Luck Steve. We will miss you!!!!

    Softball will never be the same without you on the sidelines.

  2. Liz Leggett Linvald

    I could not agree more. The skatepark is a thriving community of diverse kids in Westport and it’s one of the best spots in town. Skateboarding has had a huge resurgence and the fantastic kids that skate should have our support.

  3. Agreed!

  4. Sadly I seldom see the skate park used on my daily walks. I appreciate many want the best facilities for Westport but is the $$ worth upgrading a facility used by so few so infrequently??

  5. Stephen’s sister, Nancy, couldn’t be more proud of the innumerable contributions that he has made to Westport over the years! But it is his beautiful wife Laura, mother to their great kids, who joined him on yet their next adventure – in North Carolina!
    And yes, let’s get that skate park built!

  6. Stephen Axthelm

    Mark Post, Gabi and James had so many applicants for the summer program that they could not take them all. The park isn’t more frequently used outside of camp because it’s awful. Gabi says the skaters go to Fairfield, Greenwich and Milford if they can get there. Build it and they will come. A high quality skatepark costs about the same as a baseball or softball field.

  7. Dan, That bottom picture labeled ‘Skate park at the beach,’ is how I get into bed at night! I might even skateboard up to Westport when I come up! No tolls.

  8. Thanks for your dedication and service Steve. It has always been a pleasure discussing our community with you.

  9. Donald Bergmann

    I join with all the good wishes for Steve. My several interactions with him on the Parks & Recreation Committee confirmed his commitment to Westport, his intelligence and sound analysis of the issues with which the two of us dealt. And yes, the skateboard park needs attention as Dr. J recently discussed with the BoF in the course of the approval of financing for the Riverside Park work. Maybe when the skate board park is addressed, Steve can return and show us some of his old moves.

    Don Bergmann

  10. Steve- thank you for your work to make Westport a better place for our children. And the fact that you are advocating on your way out is a testament to your commitment! I couldn’t agree more with your comment. “It is severely outdated, and an eyesore at Compo. No other sports group has to use such a poor facility in Westport.” Honestly, that’s the truth! I will say that the skate park was utilized by many children during the pandemic this past year. It was one of the safest pandemic activities you could do even in the winter. Not the safest activity though:). We see many kids there after school. Westport should always be supporting and encouraging safe, healthy outdoor activities for our children. Even providing skateboards for those that don’t have access to one. Thanks Steve!

  11. Steve, I too appreciate your years of dedicated volunteer service, and obviously support your call to finally give the skate park the attention it deserves.

    But stating that the PRC “serves the community over politics or personal desire” is obviously a parting joke. And using the South Beach restroom as a shining example is ironic given the fact that the disability community cannot even open their doors independently, entire families lock themselves within for long stretches of time leaving others waiting outside “doing the dance”, are hazardous to anyone who might lose consciousness within, are unmonitored, and it’s location destroyed irreplaceable recreational space – a location reportedly chosen to placate a handful of wealthy Marpe supporters who live nearby.

    Spending $1.1 million of taxpayer money over the objection of 90% of Town residents for a mere 3 toilets that wheelchair and crutch using residents are unable to independently access, while simultaneously creating a significant health hazard – and falsifying resolution minutes to do so – is the definition of political strong arming, “Form Over Function”, and not your finest hour.

    Like I said, I appreciate your dedication to service and wish you well in NC, but this PRC self admiration society is just way over the top.

    Dr J

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