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.”
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.
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.
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’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.
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 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.
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.
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