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Tag Archives: South Beach
Westport’s Parks and Recreation Department and Commission have done an admirable job improving South Beach.
The alcohol-allowed-but-no-glass-please section of Compo Beach was always a favorite spot for cookouts, picnics, sunset-watching and walking.
This summer, the extension of the walking path from the cannons made it much safer. The addition of new barbecue grills eased the crunch for choice spots. The rollout of a Mobi-Mat enabled folks with mobility issues, strollers, even heavy ice chests to reach the water’s edge.
Parks & Rec has done even more at South Beach. But many beachgoers may not be aware of exactly what it all entails.
Picnickers love the new round tables, placed close to the parking area:
They look great, they’re comfortable, and they’ve got a nice, modern design.
That design is not by chance. Here’s a view from the other side. That open area is specially created, for people using wheelchairs.
Note the new nearby grill. It’s adjustable — and handicap accessible too.
The concrete pad in the foreground makes for easier access for wheelchairs, and others with limited mobility.
Many people with disabilities use the new tables and grills. I’ve also seen them occupied by groups in which no one has a disability.
That’s not their fault. They probably have no idea what the new equipment is designed for.
And there may be more of these tables and grills than there are people who’d like to use them.
Perhaps there could be signs on the tables and grills: “Designed for use by our neighbors with disabilities.”
I’m sure they’d still be used by non-disabled folks. But maybe they’d be the last ones occupied — not the first — on those days when everyone (including those with wheelchairs) wants to enjoy our wonderful, beaautiful beach.
Parents with young kids want it. People with disabilities do too.
A few hundred Westporters don’t.
Earlier this month, the RTM approved $840,000 to construct a bathroom at Compo Beach’s South Beach. The vote was 26-8.
But the site — near the current pickleball courts — did not sit well with a number of avid players. They believe the facility — which would replace the port-a-potties there now — will ruin the view of the beach. It could also impede construction of more courts in the future.
Opponents hope for a townwide referendum. They’ve gathered over 600 signatures on a petition. Yet they face a tight deadline — 4:30 p.m. tonight — to find over 1,000 more. The town charter provides for a vote if 10% of all registered voters request one.
Bathroom foe Alan Schur believes many Westporters are unaware of the proposed bathrooms; that they oppose the cost, and that — despite 15 public meetings — they wanted more transparency in the process.
Parks & Recreation Commission chair Charlie Haberstroh says that the bathroom will “help everyone experience South Beach. There is a significant lack of facilities there. The port-o-potties are sub-optimal.”
Haberstroh notes that the entire beach is in a 100-year floodplain. Town and federal regulations require any new building to be waterproofed. That requires an 11-foot foundation.
Moving the site would add another $60,000 just for studies, he says. Servicing the debt for the $840,000 capital expenditure will cost $5 a year for each beach sticker holder.
The proposal went through many town bodies, Haberstroh adds. Besides the strong RTM vote, the Board of Finance approved it 6-1.
“We have smart, responsible people in government who have asked lots of questions,” he says. “They’ve studied this for a long time.”
Referring to both the approval process and the referendum petition, Haberstroh says, “This is democracy. I’m 150% for it. But it’s been a long, difficult road.”
A few hours ago, RTM member Lyn Hogan posted this message on Facebook. Very quickly, Westporters responded — on all sides of the issue. She wrote:
I want to make you all aware of an important Compo Beach issue currently under debate: building bathrooms and an unobtrusive sidewalk at South Beach (the BBQ area).
Tomorrow night we on the RTM will vote on whether or not to approve funds for design and engineering services for restrooms and a walkway at South Beach. The RTM has been receiving dozens of emails against building bathrooms and a walkway at South Beach and against the proposed engineering plan, but none in favor.
I am surprised by the negative emails because so many residents I have talked to in the past have been in favor of bathrooms and a walkway along the beach. So I ask: Whether you are for the walkway and bathrooms or not, please let the RTM know your thoughts so we all have a fair representation of our constituents’ views. Email: RTMMailingList@westportct.gov
The current walkway along North Beach is unobtrusive and used only 7 feet of the asphalt parking lot to build (no beach). It is used heavily now, especially by parents with strollers and the elderly who find it difficult to walk in the sand.
More important, it keeps everyone from having to walk behind cars in the parking lot, allowing everyone to now stroll along the beach without worrying a car will back into them. The South Beach walkway would likely be similar.
Regarding building bathrooms at South Beach, the idea which the engineering plan would explore is to build 3 family-style bathrooms near the spot on which the port-a-potties now sit. I know when my children were young and I was BBQing with them, I would have loved family-style restrooms nearby as opposed to the port-a-potties currently in use. I also know when the port-a-potties were full, I could never have gotten my then 5- or 6-year-old to the North Beach bathrooms or Compo Boat Basin bathrooms in time!
Please let us know your thoughts: RTMMailingList@westportct.gov