Tag Archives: Jennifer Fava

Down By The Riverside …

Westport parks get lots of love.

Big ones like Longshore and Winslow bustle with activity. Smaller ones like Grace Salmon on Imperial Avenue are visited often too, by ardent fans.

For decades though, Riverside Park was an afterthought.

Tucked away near the busy Riverside Avenue/Saugatuck Avenue fork, it was easy to overlook. Trees and brush covered the entrance. Parking was limited. Hardly anyone knew that — past the overgrowth and weeds — lay a magnificent view of the Saugatuck River.

Riverside Park, before improvements.

Now they do.

A Parks & Recreation Department project removed invasive species and a few trees. A new design created truly open space, plus a wooded area with rocks.

It’s inviting. It’s handicap accessible.

And — even driving by — it’s easy to see the beautiful river.

For a small spot, Riverside Park has a long history. In the 1950s, it was where contractors dumped rocks as I-95 was built nearby.

In the 1970s, the town bought the land. At some point, officials thought, the Saugatuck fire station would be relocated there.

That never happened. It became a little used, barely maintained, often overlooked ugly stepchild.

No longer.

One view of the “new” Riverside Park …

Parks & Rec director Jen Fava is proud of the transformation. In addition to the removal of invasives and improved vistas, it includes new plantings, a pollinator garden and rain garden.

The I-95-era rocks have been been moved, to create a more natural look and feel. Some have been repurposed for seating.

The project also adds picnic tables; a permeable surface stable enough for people with wheelchairs and walkers; a new parking lot, and an extended sidewalk on Riverside Avenue.

The cost of the new park was $436,000. The parking lot and sidewalk were another $74,000, funded through the Department of Public Works.

… and another …

As with any municipal project, it did not happen overnight. The department worked with its Parks Advisory Committee and SLR Consulting on the design. It was approved by the Parks & Recreation Commission and Board of Finance.

“It’s important get people right down to the water,” Fava says. “And if we’re doing the work, we should make it as accessible for as many people as possible.”

Work began this summer. It’s almost complete.

Fava says that many Westporters are already enjoying the “new” Riverside Park.

And, she promises, “it will look especially great this spring.”

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… and a third. This one looks north.

“Light” Longshore Improvement Plans Unveiled

Two-way traffic, golf improvements, more waterfront views and access, and pickleball courts are all possibilities for Longshore.

Plans were unveiled Wednesday night, at a Parks & Recreation Commission Zoom meeting.

As first reported by Westport Journal, commissioners heard and saw preliminary “concept” diagrams” from Stantec. The Canadian landscape architect, planning and engineering firm has been hired to develop a 10-year capital improvement plan for the 168-acre town-owned park.

Options include:

  • Making the current entrance two-way; the exit road would be reserved for pedestrians and bicyclists
  • New traffic patterns near the first tee
  • Walking paths — especially along the waterfront near Hendricks Point, site of the current driving range
  • Additional parking near the driving range
  • Construction of a new golf clubhouse
  • Pickleball courts, and a pavilion.

Preliminary ideas for Longshore.

The ideas — still in the discussion phase — are called “light” by both Gary Sorge of Stantec and Jennifer Fava, Parks & Recreation director.

Members of the public can examine diagrams up close, ask questions and offer feedback to the consultants at upcoming Westport Library open houses:

  • Wednesday, October 26: (10 to 11:30 a.m.; 3 to 4:30 p.m.; 7 to 8:30 p.m.)
  • Saturday, October 29:  (9:30 to 11 a.m.; 1 to 2:30 p.m.).

Wednesday’s presentation to Parks & Rec is available on the project website: Stantec Longshore Club Park.

A survey will be available on the website beginning October 31.

Plans showing changes to the entrance and exit roads.


[OPINION] Don’t Bury Burying Hill!

Retired Westport attorney Michael Nayor and his wife Rhoda Nayor, a retired audiologist, have lived in Greens Farms for over 40 years. With their 3 children — all products of the Westport schools — the Nayors have long enjoyed Burying Hill Beach.

But as spring nears, he’s concerned about it. Nayor writes: 

Around this time for the last several years I begin to think about Burying Hill Beach, and what a shame it is that it has become somewhat of an afterthought when preparing for the summer months.

Years ago Burying Hill was a very popular destination. Children and moms came  throughout the day. Weekends saw loads of families enjoying it.

Burying Hill Beach (Photo/Yvonne O’Kane)

Today, with the exception of one hearty club-like group of swimmers, it is used infrequently.

Burying Hill has become very uninviting. The rocky (big rocks, not pebbles) shoreline makes entry into the water precarious at a minimum, and dangerous for the most part.

In addition the jetty along the southwestern border of the beach has been in serious disrepair for years.

There are restrooms and garbage is picked up, but little else is done. Fewer and fewer people each year use the beach, giving rise to the self-fulfilling prophecy that because fewer people use the facility, fewer resources need to be dedicated to it.

Rocks on Burying Hill (Photo/Lynn Untermeyer Miller)

Starting over 4 years ago, an attempt was made to recruit the town administration to do something about the extremely dangerous condition of the jetty – either rebuild it or remove it altogether, with the assistance of the state.

While certain permits have been obtained, the project seems to have stalled at the bidding/funding stage. This may be understandable, under current circumstances.

But the bottom line is that while Compo may be the crown jewel of Westport, there are other jewels as well. Ignoring them does a disservice to the community.

The town has many fine resources. All should be maintained as well. To avoid doing so pulls down the town’s reputation and image.

Burying Hill jetty. (Photo/Michael Nayor)

A successful effort to rehabilitate Burying Hill enhances the benefits available to all residents, and reflects the town’s pride in all of its resources.

Hopefully when things get back to normal, efforts to rehabilitate Burying Hill will begin again.

I asked Westport Parks & Recreation director Jennifer Fava for a comment. She says:

In regard to the jetty, the town has been going through the permitting process with the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection and the Army Corps of Engineers.

We received the permit to do the work, which is included in the 5-year capital plan.

We have tried to get permission from those agencies in the past to add sand to the beach, but have been denied. We plan to try again, in hopes we will be able to do so.

In terms of regular resources, we supply lifeguards and gate staff as we do at other locations. The beach gets groomed weekly (same as Old Mill), and like the other beaches we have a contract with a company to redistribute the sand prior to each season.

This year we will add screening of rocks out of the sand as part of this process, in hopes it will make an improvement.

Burying Hill Beach (Drone photos/Brandon Malin)

Shock Waves: Joey’s Out As Beach Concessionaire

For over 30 years, one of the joys of Compo Beach has been Joey’s by the Shore.

Joey Romeo has been more than just a concessionaire. He’s developed the most extensive menu of any beach food shack anywhere (he’s also sold beach towels, chairs, hoodies and more). He’s opened on spring weekends long before the official beach season, and been there on fall weekends long after the summer crowds have gone.

Joey Romeo, in a typical pose.

He’s the friendliest guy you’ll know, with a great, hard-working staff of (this is a rarity) Westport kids. He makes sure they’re polite, efficient, and that they keep the area spotless.

So it was a shock to learn from Parks and Recreation director Jennifer Fava just moments ago that Joey’s By The Shore will no longer operate the concession at Compo Beach — or the others at the Longshore Pavilion and Longshore halfway house — effective immediately.

Fava says, “Regrettably, Mr. Romeo has advised us that he will not pay the full rent due in 2019 under his lease, nor is he willing to fulfill his remaining 3 years under the lease. We have made every effort to negotiate mutually acceptable terms, but we have not reached an agreement with him.”

(Photo/Amy Schneider)

First Selectman, Jim Marpe added, “We appreciate the many years of service Joey has provided to the community, especially at Compo Beach, providing food for our beachgoers and jobs for some of our young adults. We will be working to get a new concessionaire in place to meet the needs of our residents and users.”

I’ve reached out to Joey for comment. Anecdotally, I’ve heard (though not from Joey) that last year — in the aftermath of new, heftier fees for Westonites and other out-of-towners, and a limit on the number of daily passes sold — was a tough one for him.

I’ll follow up when I hear back. In the meantime, here’s a tip of the Compo cap to Joey Romeo, and all his staff, for their 31 years of loyal, loving service to Westport.

Recycling The Beach

Alert “06880” reader/concerned environmentalist Amy Berkin — a Weston resident who loves Compo Beach, and often picks up straws, bottle caps, candy wrappers and other trash on her early morning visits — writes:

I’ve always wondered why there are so few recycling receptacles at Compo — especially given how many people I see throwing plastic into the trash.

I usually try to bring my plastic home with me to recycle. It seems wrong sitting looking out at the water, knowing that’s where so much plastic winds up.

The other night, I asked someone who was collecting the black trash bags from the receptacles why we don’t recycle at the beach. He explained that the town has never provided clear plastic bags, which are required for recycle collection.

Compo Beach receptacle (Photo/Amy Berkin)

Even though there are a few recycle bins at the beach, it all goes into the same fill because the collection bags are not clear. The town collectors don’t have the manpower to separate the trash (nor should they have to, in my opinion).

I think the general population is conscious enough about the need to recycle. Can’t the town supply clear bags?!

I asked Parks & Recreation Department director Jennifer Fava about this. She replied:

The issue is not about whether or not there are clear bags. The issue is that in public places it is very difficult to actually have separate recycling, as once the bin is contaminated the contents can no longer be recycled. This can occur with just one ice cream wrapper, one used food wrapper, plate, etc.

Baron’s South: Town Officials Reply

Yesterday, “06880” posted reader Morley Boyd’s comments about Baron’s South. He said that construction material from the recent Senior Center modernization project had been dumped in a nearby meadow. He was concerned about debris in the fill, soil erosion, and the removal of trees.

Morley wondered why the material was placed there, whether it has been tested, when it will be removed, and where it will go.

Today, 2 town officials responded.

Jen Fava — director of Parks & Recreation — says:

Mr. Boyd’s characterization of an “illegal dump site” including a “host” of objects is greatly exaggerated, misleading and a misrepresentation of the actual conditions.

The decision was made by the Center for Senior Activities Building Committee to store the fill on site temporarily for use in other projects within the town and/or on the Barons South property.

A closeup of the rear of the dumped fill on Baron’s South. (Phots/Morley Boyd)

This fill was taken from on site in order to accommodate the Senior Center expansion. The fill, as taken from its original location, contains rocks and soil, as would be expected, but it is all from the Baron’s South property.

Mr. Boyd’s description also made it sound as though truckloads of debris have been dumped.  This is simply not the case.  There are a few pieces of metal and other debris, but not in quantity, as implied by the description.  The items in question are being removed.

With regard to the “mature trees” that were removed, this was done in consultation with the tree warden. Only a few trees were removed, which were not in the best condition and were identified to be taken down as part of the future plan for this site.

Alicia Mozian, Department of Conservation director, adds:

I inspected the site last night. It is fully stabilized and the erosion controls are in very good shape. I saw no evidence of silt/sediment on the driveways leading down toward the waterways.

Jennifer Fava: New Parks & Rec Director Will Dive Right In

Jennifer Fava’s father was director of parks facilities for Westchester County. Growing up, she wanted nothing to do with that.

But — go figure — she ended up graduating not only from the same school (University of Massachusetts), but also the same exact program (leisure studies and resources) as both parents.

Recreation is in Fava’s blood. From her youth in Armonk as a volleyball player, gymnast, runner, swimmer and diver (“my body is paying for it now, but it’s worth it”), through jobs as parks and rec director for Yorktown and North Hempstead, she’s spent her life being active, and helping others enjoy leisure pursuits.

Her get-it-done resume and let-me-help attitude should serve her well in her new job. On September 1, Fava becomes Westport’s new director of parks and recreation.

Jennifer Fava

Jennifer Fava

It seems like a great fit — for her, and the town. During her 9 years in Yorktown, Fava managed 29 parks and other facilities. She was responsible for 750 acres of open space, and developed 12 miles in nature preserves.

During 3 years at North Hempstead, she managed 385 employees and an operating budget 3 times larger than Westport’s. She oversaw the maintenance, operations and improvements of 53 park facilities, including golf courses, a marina, botanical garden, aquatic and athletic facilities, and a 60,000-square foot community center.

She increased revenues and program offerings, reorganized the department for greater efficiency and cost effectiveness, and implemented a more user-friendly website.

Fava did not do it all by sitting in her office.

“I’m not afraid to get on the roof and check the HVAC system,” she says. In Yorktown one night after a community movie, she grabbed a bag and picked up garbage. “People should know we’re all part of a team,” she explains.

“We don’t get rich in public service,” she adds. “We do this because we love it.”

Fava calls her new town “a great place to be. The natural resources and unbelievable facilities — who doesn’t like to sit at the beach?”

Her background managing golf courses, marinas and beaches (“across Long Island Sound,” she notes) are a plus. The demographics where she’s worked are similar to Westport too.

Longshore -- part of Jennifer Fava's new portfolio -- includes a golf course, tennis courts, marina, pools, and much, much more.

Longshore — part of Jennifer Fava’s new portfolio — includes a golf course, tennis courts, marina, pools, and much more.

Fava says that as she researched Westport — and saw the capital plan — she grew even more excited. She sees an opportunity to “build on this gem, and take it to the next level.”

She found — to her surprise — that she was not a stranger to the town. When she was younger, her beach of choice was Sherwood Island. She had no idea, though, that it was in Westport. (Which makes her no different from many Westporters.)

After she beat out more than 50 applicants for the job — but before her appointment was announced — Fava visited Westport’s recreational facilities. She wanted to experience them from residents and visitors’ points of view.

She got “a very good, positive vibe” at places like Compo. “People were clearly enjoying themselves,” she says.

Compo Beach: a town jewel, beloved by all.

Compo Beach: a town jewel, beloved by all.

Fava declines to talk about priorities. “It’s too early for that,” she says. “I’ve already received stacks of documents from the Recreation Commission. I have my nighttime reading.”

The new director takes a broad view of her job. “I look forward to making a positive impact, in whatever way I can. I’ll be looking at the whole park system, not one specific site. And I’ll look at the whole well-being of people. There are a lot of aspects to this.”

Fava is already excited about one thing: her commute.

For 3 years, she drove 90 minutes (on a good day) from her home in Brookfield to North Hempstead — then back at night.

“I don’t recommend it,” Fava says.

“This will be great. And it’s all back roads.”