I love so many things about Compo Beach.
The sunrises and sunsets.
The wide variety of things to do: Swim. Walk. Jog. Bike. Sail. Kayak. Fish. Eat at Joey’s. Enjoy a picnic. Play basketball, soccer, pickleball or at the playground. Explore the jetty. Worship. Get married. Read. Nap.
I also love the wide variety of people. Foreign languages abound. So do out-of-state license plates, and plenty of folks who look nothing like “typical” Westporters.
There are 2 main reasons, I think, for the large rise in out-of-towners at Compo over the past few years. Sherwood Island banned alcohol, and we now appear online — I’m not sure where — as a welcoming alternative for families searching for a fun, relatively inexpensive day at the beach.
I am well aware that some residents don’t share my joy at sharing Compo with non-residents.
A recent Facebook posting — on a Westport/Fairfield group — was strong and direct. It read:
What is your view on the compo beach situation with out of town cars/people?
The fee they pay is very minimal, $35 week day and $50 on weekends per car. On several occasions the beach has been closed because they were at max capacity. My question is this…
Can we raise the fee that they pay? Maybe $75 per car? More on weekends?
The line of cars waiting to get into Compo Beach can be long.
Also what does the town do with the money they receive? Does it go towards our beaches?
Can we have a system set up like Greenwich where they go to Town Hall and purchase their pass during the week for the weekends? This would eliminate the crazy line of traffic that we see every weekend.
I’d like to see a police officer paid to patrol our beach. Years ago there was always an officer stationed at the beach especially on the weekends. I know due to budget constraints it was eliminated but I’d like to bring that back, especially with the crowds that are developing at Compo.
Welcome to Compo!
And finally I’d like to get a petition going to see how many are on board? I’ve spoken to and overheard many people at compo about their frustrations with parking and so on because of all the NY plates. They are all on board.
Just wanted to get your thoughts?
There were 100 comments. Many — though not all — agreed with the poster.
There were references to too many cars, and too many people being dropped off by Uber; litter, and overcrowding.
“We have a state park in town,” one person wrote. “Out of towners should go there.”
When the comments got out of hand, the post was removed.
Lisa Sabino — the alert “06880” reader who sent me the link — called many of the comments “heartbreaking.” She added:
I don’t believe they are truly representative of the people in this town.
By raising prices, we have to really think about who exactly we are keeping off our beach. I think the simple answer is ‘outsiders.’ People who are from other communities, lower income brackets, and who we see as less than us.
This town could do with some more economic, social and racial diversity. That is not going to happen by raising the cost of spending the day at our exclusive beach.
There is plenty of antisocial, illegal and rowdy behavior caused by Westporters. As much as I dislike it, dealing with it is a natural part of going out in public places.
Westporters — not out-of-towners — aggressively reserve spots for the fireworks.
This is certainly a fraught subject. It involves issues of crowding, noise, access to picnic tables and grills — and race, class and money.
Frankly, I’m surprised no one has emailed me about this before. It’s been one of the hot topics every summer for the past few years.
What do you think? Do you agree with the Facebook post, or the woman who contacted me about it? Are you — like some Westporters — conflicted?
Click “Comments” below. Let this important conversation begin!
Whose beach is it, anyway? (Photo/Tom Cook)