Category Archives: Beach

Westport Reopens: The View From Vogue

Nina Sankovitch is a talented researcher and gifted writer. Her most recent book — American Rebels: How the Hancock, Adams, and Quincy Families Fanned the Flames of Revolution — is a deep dive into our nation’s fascinating 18th-century founding.

She is also a keen observer of her longtime home town, 21st-century style.

Yesterday, Vogue Daily published her “Letter From Westport: Together Again, But Still at a Distance.”

Sankovitch headed downtown on Friday, the first day many stores were allowed to reopen.

Nina Sankovitch

The doors to Anthropologie were open; she did not venture in. She chatted with bespoke clothier Stephen Kempson — outside.

And she checked out Mitchells, where “a deluxe hand-sanitizing-and-mask-station welcomed shoppers.” A host of store personnel greeted her with what she “assumed to be smiles behind their masks.”

Three days later — Memorial Day — brought more shoppers to Main Street, Sankovitch writes.

But, she wonders, “is a new shirt worth putting on a face mask for?”

And, she concludes:

Compo Beach is usually a favorite spot for locals, but right now the beach cannot give us what we, as a community, need: a place for us to gather as a community. To watch sunsets, grill dinners, throw frisbees, play pickle ball, basketball, baseball, and softball, hold book groups and hands and beers, all together.

Westport will truly be open when the library flings its doors wide, when the Levitt Pavilion starts holding free concerts again, when restaurant and café tables are filled, when the Senior Center is hopping, when I’m dancing with my fellow aqua-fitters in the Y pool. When we can once again come together as a community—together, yes, even if it means doing so at a safe distance.

(To read Nina Sankovitch’s entire Vogue Daily story, click here.)

This is what Nina Sankovitch is waitingi for.

Pics Of The Day #1135

Interesting scenes at Compo Beach:

Photographer Brendan Byrne captured this scene, just offshore. He writes: “Said they were waiting to pick someone up – one way to avoid the airport ;-)”

Another view, with Compo Beach in the background (Photos/Brendan Byrne)

Soundview Drive, Memorial Day weekend (Photo/Patricia McMahon)

COVID Roundup: Reopening; Friday Flowers; Ford Escort; Donut Crazy; More


As Westport reopens, it may be hard to figure out who’s in charge of what. First Selectman Jim Marpe says:

The Westport Weston Health District licenses restaurants and the beauty industry. So the WWHD leads compliance of those state rules.

Fire Marshal Nathaniel Gibbons will lead enforcement efforts for all non-WWHD regulated industries. Efforts include conducting spot checks, referrals and coordination with the WWHD and Police Department.

The police are responsible for tracking all complaints. They’ll investigate to ensure compliance, and work with business owners to correct infractions.

The Police Department requests that reports of non-compliance or complaints about business operations should be made by phone to the non-emergency number: 203-341-6000. For complaints made to the state, call 211.

If you see penguins not following proper protocols, call the police non-emergency number.  (Photo/Marcy Sansolo)


As life — and human beings — come back to Main Street, the Westport Garden Club is making sure everything looks lovely.

Yesterday they planted flowers downtown. The project is part of “Friday Flowers,” the club’s campaign to brighten spirits with colorful flowers. Four beds on both sides of Main Street will be maintained throughout the summer and fall.

From left: Kathy Oberman Tracy, Kelle Ruden and Kara Wong. (Photo: Topsy Siderowf)


Of all the COVID-caused changes in Westport, none is starker than the scene at the Saugatuck train station. Almost instantly, what had always been better-get-there-early-for-a-spot lots turned into ghost towns. All those coveted parking permits? They’re gathering dust, as thousands of commuters work from home.

But — if you’re one of the few people who has been there knows — there is one lonely car. A Ford Escort has been there since mid-March. It sure is practicing social distance.

Does anyone know the back story? If so, click “Comments” below.

(Photo/Caroly Van Duyn)


Meanwhile, a few yards east, Donut Crazy opened. Commuter traffic is not yet back (duh). But Juliana and Anna (below) look like they never left. Except for the masks…

(Photo/John Karrel)


A couple of days ago, I wrote about the debut of Manna Toast. Molly Healey is opening a cafe in Bedford Square in mid-July. She’s great, and it will be wonderful.

In the meantime, beginning next Tuesday (May 26) she’s delivering family-style kits that serve 4. They include ready-to-toast sourdough bread with a choice of 2 toasts (meatless meatballs, hummus, burrata or roasted squash); 1 salad (kale with tahini miso or local greens), 1 soup (creamy carrot or 3-bean chili), and 1 tea. Everyone gets 4 chocolate chip cookies.

I was lucky enough to get a sneak peek. It’s fantastic — flavorful, creative, fresh; something new and welcome in the midst of so much COVID sameness. But don’t take my words for it. Check it out here:


It doesn’t feel like it, but this is a holiday weekend. We’ll miss the Memorial Day parade. The weather is a bit iffy.

But Compo Beach will be open. Not at full capacity, yet. There are no picnic tables or grills. Port-a-potties only, too.

Still, the scene today was like any other start-of-summer, late May day.

If only.

(Photo/Kathie Motes Bennewitz)


And finally … there might be a more beautiful way to end the week. But I don’t know what it is.

Pic Of The Day #1129

Schlaet’s Point/Hillspoint Road by drone (Photo/John Videler for Videler Photography)

Pic Of The Day #1128

Classic Compo Beach pavilion shot (Photo/Patricia McMahon)

Pics Of The Day #1127

Sunrise over Compo Cove … (Photo/Patricia McMahon)

… and sun halo at Sherwood Island (Photo/David Pogue)

Marpe: Beach Reopening Went Well, But …

1st Selectman Jim Marpe says:

This weekend’s reopening plan for the Compo Beach and Soundview parking lots, as well as reopening of play at Longshore golf course with restrictions, was successful.

In general everyone was respectful, aware, accommodating of social distancing, and had masks available when not able to maintain 6-foot distances. I appreciate the efforts everyone made, including residents and town staff, that helped insure a positive outcome.

There remain, however, some who choose not to adhere to the CDC recommendations. To be successful in our reopening efforts, we must self-monitor, and request that everyone comply with the recommendations outlined for the general health and well-being of all.

We are in uncharted territory, and gentle reminders to those around us are encouraged. Remember: Whenever you leave your home, you wear a mask to protect your neighbors, and they wear one to protect you. Please have a mask readily available (around your neck, not in your pocket) and be prepared to carefully pull it up and over your mouth and nose at any time.

Parents, please remind your children that the rules apply to them as well. Together, we can meet the challenges that face us all during these unprecedented times.

Compo Beach was quite empty yesterday (Sunday) morning. (Drone photo/Brandon Malin)

Re-Open Advisory Team:

The ReOpen Westport Advisory Team will hold a public meeting tomorrow (Tuesday, May 19, 11:00 a.m.). It will be livestreamed on www.westportct.gov, and broadcast on Cablevision channel 79 and Frontier channel 6020. Emails to the Advisory Team may be sent to reopenteam@westportct.gov.

For information on town services and facilities status reopening plans: www.westportct/reopen

Restaurants Re-Opening:

The town of Westport will streamline and expedite the process for applicants seeking approval of outdoor dining. The application form and a detailed description of the rules will be available on the town’s P&Z website this week (www.westportct.gov/pnz).

Applications will be approved with an expected response time within 10 days of the receipt date. The Planning & Zoning Commission has waived requirements for hearings on these applications, to allow for an expedited reopening of outdoor dining in Westport.

The ReOpen Westport Advisory Team is working with Westport retailers and the Selectman’s Office for administrative approvals on the use of town property for the outdoor display of retail goods.

As Westport begins to reopen, town officials are working on rules for the outdoor display of retail goods. (Photo/Molly Alger)

Tax Relief Program Reminder

The tax relief program application for April’s tax payment is due this Friday (May 22). The deadline for the July payment is July 1. Click here for more information.

Westport Weston Health District Update

Westport-Weston Health District executive director Mark Cooper reports:

Phase 1 of reopening Connecticut businesses begins next week. The WWHD has been hard at work contributing to both state and town planning efforts, as well as training for the anticipated surge in testing and contact tracing.

Widespread testing and contact tracing are key components of a successful and steady reopening process. Our community health staff will perform contact tracing for our community. While some municipalities across Connecticutrely on the State Department of Public Health to do the tracing, the WWHD expects to have the ability to manage the volume of calls in-house.

From the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak in Westport and Weston, WWHD staff has been contact tracing infected individuals. We anticipate that the number of positive tests will increase with widespread testing, so capacity has been augmented accordingly.

Staff will be joined in the efforts by the Westport Public School nurses, who have generously volunteered to help our community with this important work. Additionally, Medical Reserve Corps volunteers have answered the call for assistance. We are grateful for all of these knowledgeable volunteers.

This team effort will enable the Health District to reach out to impacted individuals to educate them on safe practices, self-isolation measures, and to answer any questions.

Salons, Barber Shop Openings Delayed; Tennis Courts Open Soon

You’ve waited a long time for that haircut or coloring.

Unfortunately, you’ll have to wait a bit longer.

The opening of those nearly essential (to many) businesses was set for this Wednesday (May 20).

Today Governor Ned Lamont announced t– with Governor Gina Raimondo of Rhode Island — that those businesses will be pushed back to “early June.”

Lamont noted that after extensive discussions with owners and employees of these businesses, more time is needed.

“We’ve been hearing a lot of feedback from many owners and employees, and at this time I think the best approach is that we hit pause on the reopening of hair salons and barbershops, take a step back, and allow some more time as preparations continue to be made,” the governor said.

In other reopening news, Westport plans to open the Longshore and Staples High School tennis courts on May 27.

Play will be limited to singles, and allowed on courts 1, 3, 5, 7 and 9 at Longshore, and 2, 4 and 6 at Staples.

Longshore tennis courts (Photo/Cliona Becker)

Additional restrictions will be in place, and posted here. The Longshore courts will require advanced reservations, with payment by credit card only; no walk-ups permitted.

Work is now being done on the Town Farm and Doubleday courts. When that’s completed, those courts will be open with similar restrictions.

Meanwhile, the Longshore pool opening is delayed until further notice. So is staffing of lifeguards at Compo and Burying Hill beaches, as the town awaits further guidance from the state.

Pics Of The Day #1125

Four beaches, six scenes:

Old Mill sunrise, this morning (Photo/Ted Horowitz)

Another early view of Old Mill (Photo/Roseann Spengler)

Old Mill, from Hillspoint Road (Photo/Patricia McMahon)

Sherwood Island State Park, from Burying Hill (Photo/Nico Eisenberger)

Canal Beach (Photo/Gene Borio)

Compo Beach (Photo/Patti Brill)

[OPINION] Doctor Dumps On Port-A-Potties

Dr. Jay Walshon is a longtime Westporter. He spent 35 years as a chairman and director of emergency medicine; is a past director of EMS for South Central Connecticut, and the EMS advisory board; a 3-term president of the Connecticut College of Emergency Physicians, and recipient of the 2016 Phil Stent Achievement Award in Emergency Medicine.

On May 7, he spoke at a Parks & Recreation Commission meeting of his concerns about using portable toilets at recreational facilities. He shared those concerns in a letter to town officials. Dr. Walshon says:

It was recently announced that the new bathroom facilities at South Beach will remain closed owing to virus related concerns. This seems prudent, as those permanent restrooms are significantly more difficult to keep safe from spreading contagion. In addition, I support the cautious reopening public spaces for resident enjoyment.

Bathroom facilities at Compo Beach will be closed … (Photo/Matt Murray)

However, as a medical professional I must respectfully point out that the choice to rely upon portable toilets at the beach potentially presents serious unnecessary and unjustifiable risks to public safety.

The premise that portable toilets are safe is not one which survives scrutiny when a highly contagious organism like COVID-19 is involved.

Current CT statistics indicate that 99% of Westport residents remain vulnerable to COVID-19.

We know there is significant community spread by pre-symptomatic viral shed for 2-3 days – including in diarrhea – and those devoid of classic signs or symptoms of COVID-19.

Given that between 25 and 50% of COVID-19 infectious people might not be aware they are spreading the virus, 2,000 beachgoers from Fairfield County will likely include people who pose unsuspecting risk. Odds are that some who are contagious will utilize these enclosed spaces. We will not know who or how many.

Viral particles can be found in the air for up to 3 hours, and droplets survive on hard surfaces for 3 to 4 days, rendering poorly ventilated confined public spaces such as portable toilets dangerous to unsuspecting users.

Despite seasonality, UV light and humidity effects, COVID-19 transmission will not be aborted and may not even significantly diminish. Current mitigation is grounded in assuming everyone may be contagious.

… and be replaced by portable toilets. (Not this many — it’s a fireworks file photo!)

Using a toilet facility after someone who unwittingly aerosolized viral particles by coughing, sneezing, spitting, diarrhea, flushing, etc. can result in infection via inhaling micro-droplets or touching contaminated surfaces. While flushing does not occur, their poorly ventilated confined spaces can increase air and surface contamination. Outdoor spaces may provide elements mitigating viral spread, but port-a-potties provide environments that are the antithesis.

While I understand the these potties will be subject to “a stringent cleaning and sanitization protocol” by maintenance staff, to be reliably effective, disinfection needs to be performed between users by trained personnel wearing proper protective garments – a challenging and arduous task for our Parks staff in summer heat, and exposing them to undue risk.

These toilets will create queues of people who must maintain social distancing and wear face coverings within to optimally mitigate contamination, and they will encourage longer stays and larger gatherings – something we might wish to avoid at this juncture.

Compounding the risk is absence of hand washing stations. Residents will be unable to effectively cleanse as “sanitizer” is merely an adjunct to proper hand washing technique with soap and water.

The inconvenient truth is that for reopening public spaces where gatherings are inevitable, public toilet facilities are not safe spaces at this time.

Unless our residents can be assured otherwise, from an epidemiological perspective the port-a-potties represent an unnecessary and unjustifiable health risk to individual and community health. If effective mitigation against viral spread is the healthcare priority for Westport, providing portable toilets to the public during this early reopening phase may be inadvisable.