[OPINION] Westport: Purchase Property Next To Burying Hill

26-28 Beachside Avenue — Harvey Weinstein’s property, next to Burying Hill Beach, and the one adjacent to it —  is on the market for $17,900,000. The 2 lots on 5.65 acres include 454 feet of waterfront, and a beach.

Longtime Westporter and open space advocate Scott Smith writes:

If the good citizens of Westport can over the years pony up funds to purchase Longshore Club Park, Winslow Park, Baron’s South, Allen’s Clam House and other unique properties around town, why wouldn’t we consider acquiring the 5-plus acre parcel on Beachside Avenue adjacent to Burying Hill Beach?

26-28 Beachside Avenue is to the left of Burying Hill Beach. (Photo copyright GMLS IDX)

While it’s great to see investment in the restored jetty, as a municipal property Burying Hill is still woefully neglected and in serious need of further climate-mitigation repair.

The roadway and parking area are increasingly under water at high tides.

And let’s face it: Despite its spectacular location, with limited facilities, an awkward layout and poor access, Burying Hill is underwhelming as a recreational venue.

Buying the adjoining land at 26-28 Beachside Avenue would allow for the entrance roadway to be moved away from New Creek, and create an opportunity to reimagine the park as a public greenspace along a scenic tidal estuary with unparalleled bluff-side views of Long Island Sound. That is what Burying Hill Beach was meant to be.

The Burying Hill Beach entrance often floods at high tide. (Photo/Ed Simek)

Yes, there’s sticker shock.

But as Donald Trump has been schooling us, real estate appraisals are very much in the eye of the beholder, and lienholder. I, for one, would have a hard time shelling out any amount of money to build a home on ground despoiled by Harvey Weinstein.

26-28 Beachside Avenue. (Photo copyright GMLS IDX)

At the very least, from an ecological/conservation standpoint, it makes great sense to preserve the New Creek watershed from further development. I would hope there are conservation easements or other tax benefits to explore to that end.

Look what happened when the town failed to prevent the blue monster at Old Mill Beach.

So, come on, Westport: Make an offer!

(To see the full real estate listing, click here.)

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Schematic for 26-28 Beachside Avenue.

42 responses to “[OPINION] Westport: Purchase Property Next To Burying Hill

  1. Great idea! This opportunity won’t come along again. It’s worth talking to the owner who lives near by. Maybe they would lower the price as a donation.

  2. This is far too good and idea for the current administration to consider…with the new P&Z in place, an 8-24 would very likely be approved but, alas, Tooker et al will never go for it…soccer fields and stuff will always be funded, but “open space,?”
    “conservation?”, too much of a taxpayer burden.

  3. An excellent idea, but maybe we could convince sellers to split the property and just buy the parcel closest to burying hill so the price tag may be much lower to start with.

  4. Great idea. This will require creative, and long term scenario planning Something I would hope our current administration , coupled with board of finance, would know how to do and see the wisdom in pursuing. This is an opportunity for them to show putting the long term future of our town first and foremost, is their priority.

  5. This is an interesting idea – in the abstract. But Westport has effectively destroyed Barons South. Open space is currently regarded with, at best, indifference. We don’t even maintain the planned landscape around our library. Our local government hasn’t demonstrated that it is capable of sustaining that which we already have. Is it wise to entrust it with even more?

  6. Janette Kinnally

    I think that is a great idea. Now people just have to open up the discussions and work together to get this done. There is no I in Teamwork. Let’s do this!

  7. First off don’t ever mention Donald Trumps name again! To think that he knows anything about valuation is just another con job.
    Buying this property would be plus to the Westport community. Maybe they can build the much debated Long Lots ball field there. Add some pickleball courts and you have your recreation area and everyone is happy. How about it Ms Tooker? Or have you already made your deals for yourself.

  8. Mr. Boyd is right. Baron’s South’s wonderful buildings have been neglected, the property’s become a dump site, and everyone’s been trying to chip away at this “open” space for years (at one point recently people were wanting the town to allow a senior living facility to be built there). I can’t imagine the town would do any better with this property…and let’s not forget it’s likely to be under water before too long, anyway. Save the $$$.

  9. Jeanine Esposito

    Burying Hill has been a long time favorite of ours from our many years living in Greens Farms. (Frederic proposed to me there!) We have always talked about what a gem it could be if it it was expanded to include more green property above and along the beach. A terrific idea if it’s kept as natural as possible without too many “amenities” as one of the things about that space is it’s natural beauty, (with the ability to see both a sunset and moonrise at the same time!)

  10. This is a great idea Dan!

  11. Put Jill Dillon in charge. She gets to the point and gets it done. We need more accessible beauty in this town and places for the increasing population to escape from the horrendous traffic encroaching on every day life.

  12. Dorothy Robertshaw

    Brilliant idea…. This opportunity is a once in a lifetime for Westport… To be the Stewart and own more recreational waterfront … for generations to enjoy… But as a side-note and a licensed interior designer and home renovator, I must get involved with The Baron’s property. It breaks my heart to see the beautiful mansion deteriorating. It’s a diamond in the rough ….

    • Dorothy, It is! And the terrace with that beautiful historic fountain could be a peaceful gorgeous demonstration garden.

  13. Great place for a ballfield

  14. Buy it with the money you’ll save by NOT spending 110 million on a new Long Lots and fixing it up for 20 million.

  15. Richard W. Alley

    Great idea! Remembering back to the time of the Longshore purchase, I doubt anyone today would doubt that it was one of the best town purchases ever made. Increased use of current facilities over the years makes this a win-win for the Town of Westport.

  16. Great idea.

  17. Fabulous idea. A once in a lifetime opportunity! Go for it!

  18. Cathryn Morrison

    A truly wonderful idea. More natural open space, especially near flood prone areas is a win for all and for the future beauty and safety of our town.

  19. Yes the Baron’s property is gorgeous ( if overgrown: always thought as a fundraiser gardeners should sell fern plants) but wild.

    When i volunteered at the library and it was used as book storage for our sales, we got sick from the mold. And i was surprised that the bathrooms and kitchen were tacky builder grade with nothing worth salvaging.

    This building, by now, might be a total tear down. Iy should be professionally inspected by people in hasmet suits.

    • Care to guess where the mold came from? That’s right, the mountain of used books that were once stored there. And thanks too for ignoring the guidance of the engineer who cautioned about exceeding the point load of the floor plate. Collapsing the dining room into the basement was an unforced error – one which the library refused to pay for. And by the way, the building’s original fittings and fabrics are actually high quality and, as a period appropriate collection, contribute to the home’s interpretative value. That’s one of the reasons that the State Historic Preservation Commission voted unanimously to place Golden Shadows on the Connecticut State Register of Historic Places.

  20. Darien just set a recent precedent by buying the Great Island property for a cool $85M. But that was 60 acres and almost all above sea level. A truly stunning property that will become a town jewel, akin to Longshore, Tod’s in Greenwich or Waveny in New Canaan. The idea here is good but not sure worth it given the property size, positioning and cost.

  21. support for this idea has been amazing to read here.
    if our first Selectwoman has any vision at all, it would be here and now with this property.
    what does she need to be convinced?

  22. Wonderful suggestion and fine comments. Our Town has a fund, not yet too big, to acquire land and the concept of buying desirable land has long been on the agenda of many of us. This should be seriously explored.

  23. Don’t we have an Open Space Acquisition fund? Does anyone know the current amount in the fund? If we wouldn’t use it here, where would we use it?

    • No, we don’t have an Open Space Acquisition Fund, my bad….It has been in the Town Plan of Conservation and Development as a wish-list item. But I don’t think one exists.

      • There is an open space acquisition fund. The amount was slightly less than $1.M the last time I checked about 5 years ago.

        • OK, thanks. I thought that was the case, but can’t find any references to it in the financial reports I saw on the website.

          • The net proceeds from the sale of 99 Myrtle went into our Open Space Fund as I recall. I was hoping we could have used the latter to help aquire the (former) open space next to Taylortown Marsh on King’s Highway North. But nope. Now it’s miserable apartment building shoe horned against the worst intersection in town. Good times.

  24. To Whom it Matters:
    Who would argue that Longshore or Compo Beach aren’t crowning jewels of living in Westport. The politicians in town could secure their place in Westport’s history adding this beachfront and landscaped property to Burying hill. Beautiful as Burying Hill Beach is this would increase the value of Westport and it’s residences. Most importantly it would make Westport even more desirable as “A Place to Call Home”. To turn down this opportunity would be “penny wise and pound foolish”. Never forget your Vote in town elections chooses our future.
    PS- and if you still insist, wouldn’t a ball field overlooking the water be spectacular, rather then alienating hundreds of voters?

  25. I agree! Have mentioned the idea many times but it’s an uphill climb. My understanding is that we do have a “hidden open space fund”. Maybe we can tie it in with a scaled down Long Lots and save the gardens while we are at it.

  26. Most of us who enjoy Burying Hill are not keen on its development as a manicured “recreational area”. One person’s “woeful neglect” is what others embrace as natural beauty. It’s called Burying Hill as indigenous people chose it as a place of serenity. Not pickle ball courts and ballfields.

  27. Burying Hill Beach provides a wonderful respite from the hustle and bustle of Compo beach. Swimmers, beachcombers, clammers, anglers, bird watchers (yes the osprey nest!) and more all enjoy the less active small jewel on Long Island Sound. This is an intriguing idea that would get the full support of the Greens Farms Association. We lobbied for 7 years to replace the jetty (no jetty, no beach!) and finally that was accomplished with COVID funds. Yes, a tall hill climb to fund it given all the other capital expenditures anticipated by the Board of Finance, including Long Lots. It would be great to NOT “develop” it by adding (start your wish list, pickleball, etc.) and just creating more open space with an awesome view of Long Island sound.
    Art Schoeller
    Greens Farms Association
    P.S. I usually start my day with a cup of coffee and a trip down to Burying Hill Beach. What a gift to be able to do so!

  28. Maybe an organization like the Connecticut Audubon Society, the Stewart B. McKinney National Wildlife Refuge, or the Aspetuck Land Trust would be interested in buying it with the help of grants and private donations. That would be a better way to keep it use passive.

  29. This is a great idea- too bad Harvey can’t get some repentance for all of his sins by donating it, but I not in his name.

  30. Hard pass. With all the pending capital outlay coming AND all the Longshore revamp in the near future, Westport has plenty of rec space AND despite popular belief as illustrated in the comments, we don’t have unlimited $. Priorities matter, fiscal responsibility SHOULD matter, and while Burying Hill is very nice, not sure buying adjoining property is necessary.

  31. I think it should stay on the tax roles, we need the money.

  32. Joseph Vallone A.I.A.

    Without question this is a great idea. The town has a brief window of opportunity, that will close and go away, maybe forever, to acquire 5.65 acres of direct waterfront property that is a direct abutter to the Burying Hill Beach? This is an opportunity to redesign the access to the existing beach. What a great opportunity! Why would we not acquire this site? Perhaps a better price could be negotiated?

    I’d start with a combined site plan of the beach with the two parcels and then create several potential long term design solutions. Perhaps an athletic field (soccer or baseball), pickle ball or tennis courts? Lots to think about for sure.

    Of course the neighbors will be completely against this notion, citing traffic and noise as their chief hardships. But isn’t this the kind of long term planning intelligent communities should aspire too? To open up more waterfront access for the betterment of the community should be the goal, shouldn’t it?

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