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.
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.
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.”