Category Archives: Beach

Beach Bathroom Debate Takes A Detour

When opponents of the new Compo Beach bathroom failed to gather enough signatures to force a town referendum, construction near the pickleball courts seemed assured.

But last night’s Planning & Zoning Commission meeting took an unexpected twist.

Commissioner Chip Stephens began by noting that earlier in the day he was at South Beach. Construction has started on a walkway near the boat storage area — in the shortcut by the road that loops near the kayak launch.

Last spring the P&Z approved the walkway, on the south side of the shortcut. But the contractors are working on the north side. They were given plans showing the walkway should go on the north.

Walkway construction at South Beach. (Photo/Matt Murray)

Stephens called it a “trivial” mistake. Things like that happen, he said. And often, the P&Z says (in effect) no big deal. Let’s move on.

Stephens’ point was that the petitioners’ push to move the bathroom away from the pickleball courts is also “trivial.” He asked for a sense of the meeting saying (in effect) that if the Parks & Recreation Department decides now to move the bathroom, the P&Z will be flexible. There would be no need for months of deliberation, Stephens said.

His recommendation was not an official agenda item. No action was taken.

But one thing is certain: This post will get another 50 comments, as if it’s the most important issue facing the town.

Beach Bathroom Foes Gather Signatures

Parents with young kids want it. People with disabilities do too.

A few hundred Westporters don’t.

Earlier this month, the RTM approved $840,000 to construct a bathroom at Compo Beach’s South Beach. The vote was 26-8.

But the site — near the current pickleball courts — did not sit well with a number of avid players. They believe the facility — which would replace the port-a-potties there now — will ruin the view of the beach. It could also impede construction of more courts in the future.

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

Opponents hope for a townwide referendum. They’ve gathered over 600 signatures on a petition. Yet they face a tight deadline — 4:30 p.m. tonight — to find over 1,000 more. The town charter provides for a vote if 10% of all registered voters request one.

Bathroom foe Alan Schur believes many Westporters are unaware of the proposed bathrooms; that they oppose the cost, and that — despite 15 public meetings — they wanted more transparency in the process.

Parks & Recreation Commission chair Charlie Haberstroh says that the bathroom will “help everyone experience South Beach. There is a significant lack of facilities there. The port-o-potties are sub-optimal.”

Haberstroh notes that the entire beach is in a 100-year floodplain. Town and federal regulations require any new building to be waterproofed. That requires an 11-foot foundation.

Compo Beach is many things, to many people. Right now, the only permanent bathrooms are on the main beach, and at Ned Dimes Marina. (Drone photo/Brandon Malin)

Moving the site would add another $60,000 just for studies, he says. Servicing the debt for the $840,000 capital expenditure will cost $5 a year for each beach sticker holder.

The proposal went through many town bodies, Haberstroh adds. Besides the strong RTM vote, the Board of Finance approved it 6-1.

“We have smart, responsible people in government who have asked lots of questions,” he says. “They’ve studied this for a long time.”

Referring to both the approval process and the referendum petition, Haberstroh says, “This is democracy. I’m 150% for it. But it’s been a long, difficult road.”

 

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Cockenoe Island, from Compo Beach (Photo/Michael Tomashefsky)

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Ned Dimes Marina at dusk (Photo/Wendy May)

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Old Mill boat (Photo/Patricia McMahon)

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A cold evening at Longshore’s ER Strait Marina (Photo/Seth Goltzer)

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Compo Beach pavilion (Photo/Michael Tomashefsky)

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Hummock Island oyster house (Photo/Betsy P. Kahn)

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Cormorant dries its wings at Schlaet’s Point (Photo/Sarah Hock)

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Dog on Compo Beach (Photo/Larry Untermeyer)