Tag Archives: Compo Beach

Tents Or Not? You Be The Judge.

I’m not the only one who noticed an invasion of pop-up tents this summer.

A recent “06880” post about summer crowds at Compo drew a number of comments about the pup tents, lean-tos and other space-filling mini-homes that have, in the words of one Westporter, turned our beach into a “tent city.”

(Another commenter, more charitably, compared it to the Caribbean.)

Of course this is not Compo. We don’t have a volleyball court in the middle of the beach.

Turns out it’s not just Westport.

According to the New York Post, a Jersey Shore town — Belmar — is considering banning all tents more than 3 feet high and wide.

Officials there have several concerns:

  • The tents block visibility
  • They take up too much space
  • They’re invasive
  • They cast long shadows
  • They obstruct the view of lifeguards.

One disgruntled beachgoer described his neighbors: “They bring tables, coolers. It looks like they’re moving in for a week.”

Another noted that tailgating is fine at MetLife Stadium. But, he said, the beach is not a Giants game.

What do you think? Take the poll below:

(To read the full New York Post story, click here. Hat tip: David Loffredo)

Pic Of The Day #117

Another beautiful Compo evening (Photo/Lynn U. Miller)

Pic Of The Day #111

Almost full moon at Compo — perfect for fishing (Photo/Tricia Freeman)

Pic Of The Day #109

Jogger on Compo Beach (Photo/Armelle Pouriche-Daniels)

Compo Beach Crowding: Parks & Rec Chair Responds

An “06880” story on Wednesday about a hot Westport topic — crowds at Compo Beach, and what appears to be an increase in out-of-town cars — drew dozens of comments.

Many readers wanted statistics on the number of passes sold, how many times the parking lot has been closed, and related issues.

This morning, they’ve got an official response.

Charlie Haberstroh just emailed this statement. He says:

Compo Beach is one of Westport’s most treasured assets, and has been a key priority for our Parks & Recreation Commission. There have recently been concerns and recommendations expressed in the media as well as political emails sent to Westport residents. We of course welcome all ideas to improve Compo Beach. As the chairman of the Parks & Recreation Commission, I would like to share some facts and my thoughts with the community.


The 4th of July and Labor Day weekends have historically seen a surge in visits to Compo Beach. However, an unexpected surge occurred this past Sunday, July 30. We did limit the sale of daily parking passes on that day from 2:30 to 4 p.m., consistent with our policy when the available spaces at Compo Beach reach 75. No resident beach emblem holders were turned away – only those attempting to purchase a daily pass.

While these surges are rare occurrences, we will consider policy modifications to address those instances including limits to the number of daily passes sold, and pre-purchase options to reduce wait time at the beach entrance.

To avoid any misunderstandings on the Soundview lot, it is only available to emblem holders, not daily pass holders. It has been this way since the 1980s.

Compo Bech is many things, to many people. (Drone photo/Brandon Malin)

Daily Pricing

As we do every fall, the Parks & Recreation Department conducts a full review after the beach season concludes and presents policy and fee recommendations to the Commission and board of selectmen. Westport charges $30 per day on weekdays and $50 on weekends, consistent with neighboring communities. Norwalk’s Calf Pasture Beach charges $25 on weekdays and $30 on weekends. Fairfield’s Jennings Beach charges $20 on weekdays and $50 on weekends. Darien’s Weed Beach charges $40 every day. Doubling the daily parking fees, as some have proposed, could dramatically restrict access to our beach for lower income guests, and may not reflect Westport’s values as an inclusive, welcoming community.


Our Commission’s efforts have made Compo Beach an even more attractive destination for Westporters and visitors alike. The popular new east beach walkway provides safe access for everyone including those with strollers, wheelchairs and mobility issues, enabling them to travel from the pavilion to the cannons. We resurfaced the basketball courts and created new pickleball courts. The east beach parking lot has been repaved and we are currently making improvements to the Soundview parking lot. The dredging of Compo Basin improves safety and the boating experience.

This fall, the Compo Beach pavilion gets a new roof.
(Photo/Katherine Bruan)

We are also pursuing a number of other Compo Beach initiatives. This fall we will commence renovations to the bathhouse and pavilion, including upgrading the bathrooms and roofs to make them more attractive and safe. We are examining options to extend the beach walkway and build permanent accessible bathrooms in the South Beach area, as well as upgrading the skateboard park. We are also evaluating moving the entrance hut further back to help reduce wait time on surge days and allow residents with emblems to bypass the lines. We continue to explore how technology can improve the beach entrance process for our resident beach emblem holders as well as visitors.

I encourage residents to share their ideas directly with me. I will share your thoughts with the Parks & Recreation Department and Commission. My email address is haberstroh.prc@gmail.com.

$35 For Out-Of-Towners

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)

Pic Of The Day #95

A kayaker contemplates last night’s sunset, between Compo Beach and Owenoke. (Photo/Nico Eisenberger)

Pic Of The Day #82

Colorful Compo Beach (Photo/Tom Cook)

Friday Flashback #46

The July 4th holiday — the biggest beach-going celebration of the year — is a good time to look back at Compo Beach of yore.

Here it was in the early 1900s — almost deserted, but ringed with wooden bathhouses:

The cannons were placed at the beach in 1910 1901. Shortly thereafter, a horse and cart passed by:

Here’s one of the rafts that were anchored offshore:

There’s a common element to these photos, taken half a century apart:


From long before the British landed offshore in 1777, right up until the late 1950s, Compo was not the sandy beach it is today. It was rocky, uneven — downright uncomfortable.

A major project created the Compo we know and love. It was not easy — but it was important.

Think about these photos the next time you complain about anything beach-related.

Like sand on the boardwalk.

Pic Of The Day #74

Low tide at Compo Beach (Photo/Lynn U. Miller)