There is so much that’s special about Old Mill, Sherwood Mill Pond and Compo Cove: the pedestrian-only wooden bridges. The oyster house, reachable only by boat. The old-fashioned garages, one of them festooned with seashells.
And the 3-wheeled vehicle that sits in Clark Hanford’s lawn, next to the narrow walkway leading to those garages and bridges (with the oyster house off in the distance).
That little car was the subject of last week’s Photo Challenge. Every reader who responded knew exactly where it sits. Congrats to Matt Murray, Lynn Untermeyer Miller, Linda Revelli, Tom Green, Rich Stein, Fred Cantor, Seth Goltzer, Karen Como, Tom Risch, Amy Schneider and Bob Belciano.
Some of those readers live at or near Old Mill. Some enjoy walking there. All are intrigued by it. Click here, to see for yourself.
And see if you can identify this week’s Photo Challenge. If you know where in Westport you’d spot this, click “Comments” below.
Last week’s announcement that public parking at Old Mill Beach is reopened was straightforward. Parking is once again available for vehicles with beach emblems or hang tags, on a space available basis.
But the Parks & Recreation Department news underscored long-running tensions between residents of Old Mill and Compo Cove, and residents in other parts of town.
Parking at the small beach opposite Joey’s by the Shore has always been limited. There are 35 residences by the beach or over the twin wooden bridges (accessible only by foot). There are 13 garages in back (they’re private property, each deeded to a home). A few properties do have room for parked cars. After re-paving a year ago, the lot was striped for 64 spaces.
The parking lot in April 2019, after paving and re-striping. (Photo/Matt Murray)
Parks & Rec placards identify vehicles that belong to residents. Those allow residents to park overnight there.
Old Mill and Compo Cove owners and renters have also been allowed to purchase 4 passes: 2 for themselves (1 per car, license plate-specific), and 2 for guests. The cost is $330, and they do no guarantee parking spaces.
During the COVID shutdown — designed to minimize crowds on the sand — Old Mill residents bristled at charges that they had a “private beach” paid for by Westporters’ taxes.
Old Mill Beach, early July (Photo/Diana Griffin Coyne)
“We pay for the schools and other services we may not use,” Matt Murray says. “I’ve been here 32 years, and never had a child in the school system. It’s part of funding the town.”
(Old Mill residents have their own complaint. This spring and summer has seen a steep rise in the number of tweens and teens jumping from the wooden bridge into Mill Pond. Some ride bikes there; others dropped off by parents. Residents say the youngsters have been loud and disrespectful, and have vandalized cars in the lot. Parks & Rec has now assigned an employee to the area. But that’s another story.)
A time-honored ritual, in 2019. The parking garage — part of some owners’ property deeds — is in the background.
For years, Old Mill was Westport’s forgotten beach. Once upon a time, there was a lifeguard. Then it eroded so badly that swimming became almost impossible. The Mill Pond behind it was in bad shape too.
But Old Mill is back. People swim, go crabbing and fishing, use skim boards and boogie boards, and walk out (and party) on the mud flats. The Mill Pond is healthy again too.
Old Mill in June (Photo/Les Dinkin)
The popularity of Joey’s by the Shore/Elvira’s Coffee Bar — particularly now that the Compo concession stand is not open — has added to the allure of Old Mill Beach.
With Compo operating at half capacity (meaning occasional closures on great-weather weekends), plus some Westporters’ hesitancy to hang out at still-crowded Compo — along with the fact that more people (including kids) than ever have stayed home this summer — Old Mill has never been more attractive.
Old Mill Beach (Photo/Dan Woog)
For a couple of weeks, a social media firestorm pitted Westporters demanding more access to the Old Mill parking lot against residents defending their right to park there.
Parks & Rec’s recent decision to reopen Old Mill Beach — under the regular, first-come-first-served parking rules — has quieted the tempest.
For now — let’s hope — everyone can play nice in the sandbox.
Starting today, the Old Mill Beach parking lot is fully re-opened.
That means a reversion to previous rules: Parking is available for vehicles with beach emblems or hang tags, on a space available basis.
As in the past, Parks and Recreation Department staff will strictly enforce all parking regulations.
Greens Farms Academy has announced plans for in-person, on-campus instruction, 5 days a week, beginning September 1.
The private school on Beachside Avenue has spent the summer making numerous preparations — everything from changing physical spaces and furniture, to mandating one-way building pathways, to delivering lunch to assigned spaces.
One more change; There will be no formal uniform at GFA this year.
Meanwhile, the fall sports season will look different this year. The Fairchester Athletic Association has canceled all regular season games and tournaments. The league cited “differing return-to- school plans and academic models” for its member schools, in light of COVID-19, as the reason.
However, GFA says, the league’s announcement does not preclude the school from scheduling interscholastic opportunities between and among like schools, if able.
The Senior Center is sponsoring 3 interesting events this month.
Next Thursday, August 6 (10 a.m., Zoom meeting), a Westport Weston Health District panel will discuss COVID-19 in Connecticut. Viewers can ask questions too. Click here for the link.
A Caregiver Support Group meets on Wednesdays (August 5 and 19, September 2 and 16, 10 a.m.). Positive Directons’ Terry Giegengack will facilitate the sessions. For more information, call Holly Betts (203-341-5096) or email email@example.com.
Friends of the Westport Center for Senior Activities hosts a free summer concert series in August and September. The stars are local musicians. First up (August 14, 1:30 p.m.): pianist Mathew Graybil, who has played around the world. He’ll feature works by Chopin, Schubert and Brahms. Click here for the Zoom link.
The Senior Center is closed. But programs continue.
At Staples High School, 2004 alum Charlie Stoebe was a soccer and track star (and captain). He graduated from Dartmouth College, and is now working with NBC Sports.
Charlie is multi-talented. In his spare COVID-related time, he created a new party game.
“What Was the Question?” tests how well you know your friends and family. But unlike most getting-to-know-you games, it starts not with a question, but an answer. Players must figure out the question. After each reveal there are fun discussions on the answer the player gave, and the predictions everyone else made.
“What Was the Question?” is now in Kickstarter mode. To help get it to market — and help out a really great Staples grad — click here.
And finally … Danish pianist Bent Fabricius-Bjerre died yesterday at 95. You may know him as Bent Fabric. Or maybe you just know his most famous song:
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