Tag Archives: South Beach

A Need-To-Know Basis: The Basics

A reader writes:

My wife and I just bought a home in Westport. We will move there in September.

As a soon-to-be resident, reading “06880” has helped me get to know the town. For example, I already know that everyone on the railroad parking wait list will soon get a pass.

But what else should I know?

I’m looking for a quick crash course about the town. It could be anything from “avoid this road during these hours” to “this parking lot always has spaces” to “what do I need to know about Compo Beach.”

I realize you could write hundreds of tips. I figured it wouldn’t hurt to ask.

Great idea!

You’re right. I could give hundreds (if not squintillions). Here are a few quick ones, in random order:

You need a ticket for the 4th of July fireworks at Compo Beach. (Which in Westport are never actually on the 4th. This year, they’re June 30th.) Westport PAL puts them on, with help from Melissa & Doug (the innovative toy company). Tickets are available at Parks & Rec headquarters (in Longshore, near the 1st tee) and police headquarters (Jesup Road). The $40/vehicle ticket supports a huge variety of PAL programs — so even if you watch the fireworks elsewhere, or don’t park at the beach, consider donating to PAL.

If everyone cooperates, getting into the beach for the fireworks goes smoothly.

Speaking of which: Unfortunately, Westport’s Parks & Recreation Department website is the least user-friendly I’ve seen since dial-up modem days. From the non-intuitive way to sign up for hand passes (for tennis, golf, Longshore pool, etc.), beach emblems (we actually call them “stickers”) and boat launch permits — hint: click on “Memberships” — to the random, dizzying list of options in every category, on through all the clicks needed to jump from page to page and back again, it’s a cluster****.

The good news is: If you’re free when the office is open, head there yourself. (As noted above, it’s in Longshore, near the golf course 1st tee.) The employees are fantastic: knowledgeable, helpful, friendly and fun.

The bad news is: I can’t tell you when the office is open. It’s nowhere on the website — at least, nowhere I could find.

The Parks & Rec Department office, at Longshore. (Photo/Lynn Untermeyer Miller)

Speaking of the beach: The best sunsets for miles around are at Compo’s South Beach. That’s the area from the cannons to the kayak launch. There’s often a convivial crowd — perhaps because that’s the only area on a Westport beach where alcohol is permitted. (No glass, please!)

South Beach is also where, on a beautiful evening, every grill might be taken. Tables are first-come, first-served. Despite that notice on every table, some people “reserve” them by leaving blankets, chairs, even coolers all around, then leaving the beach for the next few hours.

You are perfectly within your rights to take that table. However, I am not responsible for whatever happens next. I’m just sayin’….

This does not reserve you a South Beach table.

A few other tips: The town dump is called the “transfer station.” On the Sherwood Island Connector, it’s  where you toss household garbage, furniture, carpeting, lamps, televisions, electronics, batteries and similar items. Much of it is recycled. Workers there are very helpful and friendly. On Saturday mornings especially, it’s a great place to meet other Westporters.

The best shortcut in town that does not involve annoying other residents is the Merritt Parkway between Exits 41 and 42. You get from the YMCA/Wilton area to Coleytown/Weston without circling through Wilton Road, North Kings Highway and Main Street. Even when the Merritt traffic creeps along, it’s usually quicker.

The Imperial Avenue parking lot is underrated – not only for events at the Levitt Pavilion, but even for downtown. The pedestrian bridge connecting it to the Levitt and Library is easy and gorgeous — and the lot is nearly always empty.

Deadman Brook bridge, between the Levitt Pavilion and Imperial Avenue (Photo/Lynn Untermeyer Miller)

You will see the Remarkable Bookcycle parked somewhere around town: the beach perhaps, or Bedford Square or the Westport Book Shop on Jesup Road. The concept is cool — take a book, give a book — but there’s a back story. It’s decorated with the “dancing man” logo of the Remarkable Book Shop, a beloved (and long-gone) Main Street institution. Fun fact: The Bookcycle is the brainchild of Jane Green. Yes, that Jane Green. The internationally known author is a fellow Westporter.

(Photo/Judith Shaw)

Those are just a few top-of-the-head ideas. I am sure every “06880” reader — at least, those who have been here more than 10 minutes — can add his or her own.

So, let’s do it. Click “Comments” below to pass along info that every newcomer needs to know. Along with this last one:

You don’t need to buy milk and eggs every time snow is predicted. But do pay attention to rain and wind advisories.

There’s not a lot that’s certain in Westport, but this much is: You will lose power.

Often.

Welcome to Westport!

Pics Of The Day #1224

Schlaet’s Point …

… and South Beach (Photos/Lauri Weiser)

Pics Of The Day #1203

Compo’s South Beach, looking west toward Owenoke … (Photo/Andrew Colabella)

… and Ned Dimes Marina nearby (Photo/Jeff Kaplan)

Turning The Tables

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.

(Photos/Bruce McFadden)

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.

Pic Of The Day #822

On Tuesday night, 8-year-old Finn Cummings had the whole world — or at least the big orange moon — in his hands (Photo/Mandy Cummings)

Beach Bathroom Foes Gather Signatures

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.

Compo Beach pickleball. Existing bathrooms are far in the background.

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.

Compo Beach is many things, to many people. Right now, the only permanent bathrooms are on the main beach, and at Ned Dimes Marina. (Drone photo/Brandon Malin)

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.”

 

Pic Of The Day #65

Compo Beach, moments before last night’s storm. (Photo/Andrew Colabella)

Beach Bathrooms, Walkway Are Back

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.

The RTM will vote on funding design plans for a South Beach walkway. (Photo/Laurey Tussing)

The RTM will vote on funding design plans for a South Beach walkway. It would be built close to the parking area, on the right side of the photo. (Photo/Laurey Tussing)

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.

The new walkway extends from the pavilion to the cannons.

The new walkway extends from the pavilion to the cannons.

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