Tag Archives: Compo Beach Site Improvement Committee

Small Steps Lead To Big Beach Improvements

Remember the Compo Beach Site Improvement Plan?

Introduced in 2014, it would have included a new entrance, gatehouse, arrival court, main building, plaza area, extended boardwalk, long pedestrian pathway beginning at Owenoke, new marina buildings and promenade, fenced camp area and new camp building, new South Beach pavilion plus bathhouse and central activity lawn, planted dunes and berms, a pedestrian walkway on Soundview Drive, and Ferris wheels and roller coasters*.

It also would have eliminated perimeter parking along the beach, forced the relocation of the skate park, and cost approximately a squintillion dollars.

Part of the proposed plan showed new entranceways, an expanded boardwalk, and a parking area in the center of the beach.

Part of the proposed plan showed new entranceways, an expanded boardwalk, and a parking area in the center of the beach.

If you haven’t heard much about the plan in the past year, there’s a reason. Like elderly Eskimos put on ice floes to die, this one just sort of floated away, into the sunset.**

But one part of the plan — an element that most Westporters seemed to love — lives on.

The other day, the Board of Finance unanimously approved $97,000 to create an 8-foot-wide concrete walkway from the bathhouse to the cannons. The only effect on parking is to move spaces back 8 feet.

The bigger impact — an important one — will be to move walkers and joggers out of danger. Currently, they share that part of the parking lot with cars jockeying for spaces, and backing out.

A concrete walkway will be built between the parking lot and the sand, extending from the bathhouses to the cannons.

A concrete walkway will be built between the parking lot and the sand, extending from the bathhouses to the cannons.

Another $88,500 was approved to bring the 2 basketball courts up to regulation size. They’ll be repaved and painted; LED lights will be installed, and adjustable hoops will allow players of all ages to compete.

If the RTM approves both allocations, work could be completed by spring.

Now recreation officials can turn their attention to the next important phase of the Compo improvement: removing all Canada geese — and their poop — from the beach.

*Well, not Ferris wheels and roller coasters. But close.

** Which many folks were worried about no longer seeing from their cars, parked near the sand.

 

Remember The Compo Beach Site Improvement Committee?

If you haven’t heard much from the Compo Beach Site Improvement Committee in a few months, there’s a reason:

It no longer exists.

After the group sent its report to the Parks & Recreation Commission in October, the committee was dissolved.

Now the commission is ready for next steps. A hearing is set for for Tuesday, March 31 (7:30 pm, Town Hall auditorium). The meeting will include public comment.

Parks and Rec chair Charlie Haberstroh says, “The Commission is anxious to move forward and make recommendations to the First Selectman, so the town can implement appropriate improvements to one of Westport’s most popular recreational facilities.”

The meeting will be televised (Channel 79 Cablevision, Channel 99 Frontier), and livestreamed at http://www.westportct.gov.

Compo Beach: a town jewel, beloved by all.

Compo Beach: a town jewel, beloved by all.

 

Compo Beach Plan Moves To Parks & Rec On Monday

For nearly 3  months — ever since a raucous public meeting at which dozens of Westporters decried the possible removal of perimeter parking from Compo — the town’s Beach Site Improvement Committee has held work sessions.

This Monday (July 7, 7:30 p.m., Town Hall auditorium), the group hands off their draft master plan to their bosses: Westport’s Parks and Recreation Commission. The meeting is open to the public.

“We look forward to an opportunity to discuss the plan and receive public input regarding the recommendations,” says Parks and Rec chair Charlie Haberstroh.

“Compo Beach is one of the town’s crown jewels. Future plans for Compo Beach are important to all Westporters.”

Part of the plan. It shows new entranceways, an expanded boardwalk, and a parking area in the center of the beach.

Part of the plan. It shows new entranceways, an expanded boardwalk, and a parking area in the center of the beach.

First Selectman Jim Marpe notes that this is not the end of the process. “The plan is still a ‘draft’ document subject to further change and revision, based on the review of the Parks and Recreation Commission and additional input from the public.” He invites interested citizens to attend the meeting, and continue to provide suggestions and feedback.

If you’d rather  watch at home, the meeting will be televised (Cablevision Channel 79, AT&T Channel 99). And if you’re out enjoying Compo — parking close to the sand — check out the videostream at www.westportct.gov.

(The final draft of the Compo Beach Master Plan is available at www.compobeach2.com.) 

The Public Can Now See The Compo Beach Plan

Many of us are talking about it. But — unless we crowded around an easel before the start of Wednesday’s contentious Compo Beach Site Improvement Committee meeting — we have not yet seen the plan.

Here it is:

Part of the plan. A link to the full plan -- in a much larger format -- is at the end of this story.

Part of the new design. A link to the full plan — in a much larger format — is at the end of this story.

It includes:

  • New gatehouse, with a longer entrance now opposite Bradley Street
  • Arrival court, main building, bathing beach plaza area and extended boardwalk
  • Long pedestrian pathway beginning at Owenoke
  • New marina buildings, and marina promenade
  • Fenced camp area, with new camp building
  • New South Beach pavilion, bathhouse and central activity lawn
  • Planted dunes and berms
  • Curb separation and pedestrian walkway on Soudview Drive.

Click here to view the PDF. Warning: It takes a while to load.

The wait — to see what all the discussion is about — is worth it.

 

 

 

Skip Lane: “Imagine Sand And Sea Grass, Not Steel And Chrome”

Skip Lane is a native Westporter, former professional football player and current realtor who grew up on Soundview Drive. He’s also a member of the Compo Beach Site Improvement Committee.

Yesterday he emailed “06880.” Emphasizing that he is speaking only for himself, he offers these insights into the current — and, he hopes, future — state of the beach:

Our volunteer committee was organized to improve the overall beach experience. Collectively the committee has hundreds of years of experience at the beach, but we all acknowledge that beach life has changed.

The number of people using it all year round, and the number of walkers and runners, has increased dramatically.

Skip Lane

Skip Lane

Our 1st goal is to address these people, and make the beach more accessible for these activities. We think we have done so, by adding a pedestrian path from one end of the beach to the other.

Our 2nd concern is the queuing of cars trying to get into the beach. I think the proposed plan addresses this as well.

The bathhouse is a disgrace. It needs to be updated and storm-proofed.

The big issue of public concern seems to be the proposal to move cars away from our beautiful beach.

If you go to any beautiful beach on the East Coast, you do not see any cars parked along the actual shore. From Cape Cod to Nantucket, the natural beauty of the shore is protected. The beaches are differentiated from parking lots. Why should we park on ours?

Our committee examined other beaches along the coast. We decided our beach would be much more natural and beautiful if we moved the cars back, and made the beach a beach. God forbid Westporters have to walk an extra 30 yards.

An East Coast beach with sand dunes, not parking.

An East Coast beach with sand dunes, not parking.

I recommend everyone go and walk Fairfield beach, Sherwood Island, Hammonaset and most beaches north of that. Compo will never be a state park, but do know that those parks were designed by professionals who had the natural beauty of the beach in mind.

I understand the issue of senior citizens, and I think we need to address them.

But imagine you are in your beach chair. You turn around and see sand and sea grass, instead of steel and chrome. It’s a tad less convenient, but imagine the difference. That is all I ask.

(The committee’s next meeting is Wednesday, April 23, at 5:30 p.m. in Town Hall Room 201. To follow the progress of the committee, and make comments, click here.)

 

Compo Beach Improvement Chair: “We Hear You Loud And Clear”

Town Hall’s Room 201 was jammed like the fireworks today, as the Compo Beach Site Improvement Committee met for the 1st time since Mike Calise’s public letter lamenting the proposed elimination of perimeter parking.

Chairman Andy Moss opened the meeting by acknowledging the SRO crowd. He said that the committee — whose charge is to “refresh our much-loved town asset” — would define its success by achieving compromise.

“We have no illusions we will please everyone,” the former Parks and Recreation Commission chair added.

Moss noted that the committee was examining issues relating to safety, traffic flow, improving South Beach, pedestrian and bike access and more.

Early arrivals examined a proposed Compo Beach site plan, before today's meeting.

Early arrivals examined a proposed Compo Beach site plan, before today’s meeting.

An unidentified consultant to the committee described the new beach plan. It includes a new entrance area opposite Bradley Street; a roundabout; an “activity area,” and 700 paved (“or gravel,” she quickly added) parking spaces.

A self-described 52-year resident of the town shouted, “Have there been many pedestrian accidents?”

Parks and Rec director Stuart McCarthy described the desire to keep cars and pedestrians separate. He emphasized that the plan was “conceptual,” and that the town and various boards would make the final decision.

Several speakers noted the importance of easy access to the beach for elderly users, and families with small children. A comment about New Yorkers taking “all the early spots” drew applause.

Committee member Skip Lane compared the new plan to a state park like Hammonasset or Sherwood Island, with centralized parking. In response, several speakers said that what is right for a state park does not work well for a town beach.

That caused an audience member to yell, “We’re fixing a problem that doesn’t exist. Please tell me the problem. I’ve been here since 1970, and I came because of Compo. It’s spectacular!”

Westporters never tire of the views from Compo.

Westporters never tire of life at Compo.

Moss pointed out various areas that need improvement: the brick wall near Joey’s destroyed by Hurricane Sandy; traffic that backs up to Owenoke; port-a-potties on South Beach.

“Rather than fixing things piecemeal, we’re looking at the big picture,” he said.

When RTM member Jack Klinge said that he was very pleased with the proposed new entrance and bathhouse, but had been asked by “hundreds” of seniors to protect convenient access to the bathhouse, Moss reiterated: “That’s coming through loud and clear.”

The back-and-forth continued. Bob Driscoll said, “I’ve been coming to the beach for 80 years, and it’s worked out pretty damn well.”

Every day at the beach is not, well, a day at the beach.  But even storm clouds can be beautiful.

Every day at the beach is not, well, a day at the beach. But even storm clouds can be beautiful.

A self-described “traffic and logistics guy” claimed the committee was taking a traffic and safety problem, and turning it into “a major reconstruction.”

Moss repeated, “I hear the concerns about parking along the beach. That’s very important to hear.”

Recent Staples graduate Hannah Dickison had the last word. “I’ve seen a lot of changes here in 10 years,” she said. “Please don’t chip away at the beach too.”

After most of the crowd left, the committee turned its attention to policy issues. Among other things, they discussed the removal of the skate park, and the importance of parking revenue from out-of-towners.

(The committee’s next meeting is Wednesday, April 23, at 5:30 p.m. in Town Hall Room 201. To follow the progress of the committee, and make comments, click here.)

 

 

 

2 Quick Days, 2 Big Meetings

Whatever your passion — the beach, historic preservation or downtown — Westport’s got a meeting for you.

Today at 5:30 p.m., the Compo Beach Site Improvement Committee meets at Town Hall (Room 201). Based on the 79 comments (and counting) to Mike Calise’s plea to retain perimeter parking near the sand — and 0 in favor — it should be interesting.

Tomorrow (7 p.m., Town Hall auditorium), the Planning and Zoning Commission will hear presentations from 2 committees: Village District and Downtown Steering.

It’s a work session, meaning the public can observe but not participate. Here’s what observers will see:

The Village District Committee, chaired by Historic District Commission chair Randy Henkels, will present information from their consulting group, headed by Steven Cecil from Boston.

Finding the right balance between old and new: an eternal downtown question. (Photo/Craig Schwartz)

Finding the right balance between old and new: an eternal downtown question. (Photo/Craig Schwartz)

The presentation will describe exactly what a Village District offers Westport, in terms of preservation of buildings and historic character. It’s part of a state-funded project to promote preservation in Connecticut; reports can be utilized by a town and its land-use agencies.

Tomorrow’s report may describe regulations and restrictions that have been successfully implemented in other Connecticut towns (including being upheld against court challenges.)

The Downtown Steering Committee — chaired by Dewey Loselle — has asked its consulting group, RBA, to to present Phase 1 of its project. It’s a baseline traffic study of the extended downtown area.

The study will include a computer-animated vision of traffic patterns, which can serve as a tool to evaluate the impact of traffic on forthcoming land-use proposals.

Some of the most infamous Post Road intersections have been studied, including Wilton Road and Riverside Avenue, and Compo Roads North and South.

Charming, no?

Charming, no?

Phase 2 — the vision of downtown, regarding traffic flow, parking, greening of the riverfront, the size and mix of commercial buildings, and residences — will be touched upon tomorrow too.

The train has not yet left the station, regarding Compo, historic preservation or downtown.

But it has pulled in. If you’re a Westporter who cares about this town, get on board.

 

 

 

 

Mike Calise: “I Have Concerns About The Compo Beach Improvements”

Mike Calise

Mike Calise

Mike Calise is a familiar figure in Westport. Whether selling real estate, riding in his Jeep with the top down and doors off, or — most typically — walking on Compo Beach in every season, the 1958 Staples graduate and Marine Corps veteran has a native’s feel for the rhythms of our town.

Mike is following the news of the Compo re-imagining closely. The other day, he wrote to “06880.” Mike said:

I have become increasingly concerned with the direction the Compo Beach Site Improvement Committee is taking. My read on the citizens forum I attended last fall was that most residents were comfortable with Compo as it is. They did call for improvements in the concession and bathhouse area, and an additional bathroom area at South Beach.

Although people talked about other wish list items, such as mini-golf, most everyone stated that they preferred the current beach configuration. A reconfiguration of the entrances was high on the Recreation Commission’s agenda, and most found that acceptable. Beyond that it was: It’s not broke. Don’t fix it.

Everyone loves Compo Beach. But this serene view belies a discussion that's brewing about changes to traffic patterns.

Everyone loves Compo Beach. But this serene view belies a discussion that’s brewing about changes to traffic patterns.

The committee, however — along with the consultants — has pursued a completely different path. They are moving toward an internal parking lot, with minimal parking opportunities beyond that.

They have developed a plan that eliminates all perimeter parking. No parking along the beach edge, from the bathhouses to the cannons. No parking in front of the grills at South Beach. No parking in the boat launch area. And greatly reduced parking at the marinas. They favor an internal parking area with its own traffic loop in and out of the beach (the “half loop”). Although the full drive through the beach roadway is currently in the plan, there is strong sentiment to eliminate it, along with the perimeter parking.

Since time immemorial -- well, for many decades -- cars have parked close to the shore.

Since time immemorial — well, for many decades — cars have parked close to the shore.

Their theory is that people need to get out of their cars and walk. In taking this position they have completely ignored young families with lots of gear and children, older adults who may not have the ability or desire to walk long distances toting gear, and boaters with fishing gear and supplies.

As you know, the beach is used in many different ways, on a year-round basis.

During the winter people spend time in their cars just enjoying the views. In summer the grills are heavily used. Having easy access to vehicles — especially for families with young children — is a great asset, and far safer than having to walk across a roadway to access cars for unexpected needs.

There's nothing like a sunset on Compo's South Beach.  A plan being considered would move cars further away from this -- and other -- beach areas.

There’s nothing like a sunset on Compo’s South Beach. A plan being considered would move cars further away from this — and other — beach areas.

Being able to park at the edge of the beach between the bathhouse and the cannons to tailgate or just put a chair on the sand is important to many. I have seen this done regularly. In short, the ease of access which is enjoyed and cherished by all is under threat of elimination.

As part of this substantive change, the committee is planning walkways and drop off points. All are in the design stage.

The committee meets every other Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. in Room 201 of Town Hall. The next meeting is this Wednesday (April 9). These meetings are informal, and all who wish to speak are given an opportunity.

This is truly a time where resident opinions are important!

According to plans, a new entrance to the beach would be constructed near Roosevelt Road (opposite the marina). Traffic would loop through the center of the beach, further from the marina, South Beach and the "regular" beach than it does now.

According to plans, a new entrance to the beach would be constructed near the marina. Traffic would loop through the center of the beach, further from the boats, South Beach and the “regular” beach than it does now. (Photo/Katherine Hooper)