Tag Archives: Stuart McCarthy

A True Pro Leaves Longshore

It was a tiny moment. But it changed John Cooper’s life.

When he was 11 years old, dragged to a tag sale, he spotted some golf clubs, and a pot of used balls.

He bought them. But he had no idea how to play, so he got an instructional book.

Instantly, Cooper was hooked.

He hit 800 golf balls a day. He went out before school and after, to the Burr Farms Elementary School field (conveniently located behind his Blackberry Lane house). When it was dark or the weather was bad, he hit balls into a net in his parents’ garage.

A year later on Long Island, Cooper won his first tournament.

At 13 he attended Arnold Palmer’s golf camp — and met his idol. Cooper’s passion for the sport grew even stronger.

Though barely a teenager, he had 2 jobs. He washed dishes at the Inn at Longshore, and caddied on the adjacent golf course. Dave Reynolds — who lived in an old house next to the 2nd tee — helped Cooper learn the game.

The Longshore golf course -- where John Coopepr learned the game. (Photo by Dan Murdoch, via LongshoreGolf.com)

The Longshore golf course — where John Coopepr learned to play. (Photo by Dan Murdoch, via LongshoreGolf.com)

He became a 2-year captain of the Staples High School golf team — and an All-American. As a junior in 1975, he helped coach Joe Folino’s squad win the state championship.

Cooper earned a partial scholarship to the University of Tampa. He captained that team too, and roomed with Brian Claar. Cooper had convinced his fellow Stapleite to go there, instead of his original plan to ski at the University of Connecticut.

In 1986, Claar was named Rookie of the Year on the PGA tour.

Cooper turned pro in 1980. After 2 years on the mini-tour circuit — and the realization that he would not make a living as a player — he turned to his true golf passion: teaching.

He came back to Westport. From 1980-83 he served as assistant pro to the legendary George Buck. He then was an assistant at clubs elsewhere in Connecticut, and Florida.

Buck died in the summer of 1991. Cooper applied for the position, went through the interview process, was offered the job — but declined. He did not think he could make a living with the terms offered.

After negotiating a better contract, he signed. There were early glitches — he walked into a shell of a building with no golf carts and electrical problems — but the past 25 years have been wonderful.

Fore! John Cooper in action.

John Cooper in action.

Over 5,000 junior golfers have gone through Cooper’s program. One — Larry Tedesco — qualified for the US Open. Cooper gave Willard Scott a golf lesson at Longshore — televised live on “The Today Show.”

He was named the Northeast Teacher of the Year, and honored by the Sportsmen of Westport.

Along the way the pro has helped wounded soldiers learn golf, through Project HOPE. He’s also raised money for Folds of Honor (supporting families of injured and fallen soldiers), and the Bridgeport Rescue League. He also created a scholarship for Staples student-athletes on the boys and girls golf teams.

Cooper is very proud that just a few months ago he earned the PGA’s highest designation: Master Professional. The organization has asked him to mentor other teaching pros — including the head professional at TPC Sawgrass.

John Cooper (right) with Paul Taylor, former director of golf at Longshore. John and Parks and Recreation Department head Stuart McCarthy won this golf cart in a closest-to-pin competition at the Met PGA Pro-Am in New Rochelle. Cooper donated it to the town.

John Cooper (right) with Paul Taylor, former director of golf at Longshore. John and Parks and Recreation Department head Stuart McCarthy won this golf cart in a closest-to-pin competition at the Met PGA Pro-Am in New Rochelle. Cooper donated it to the town.

But every course has its rough. While most of Cooper’s contracts were for 5 years, his most recent ran for only 2. This fall, the Parks and Recreation Department put out an RFP. Though he was notified on December 8 that the town wanted him to stay — and he very much wanted to — he felt there were “too many caveats” in the arrangement.

His rent runs to six figures. “I don’t think I could make a living, paying my 12 employees,” Cooper says.

For one thing, a bunker renovation project next spring will render a few holes unavailable until late June.

That — along with the fact that his income is always affected by weather and course conditions — caused him to reject the offer.

“I survived when the greens died a few years ago,” Cooper says. “I’m just getting out of debt now. I can’t risk taking that chance again.”

He’s leaving with nothing but fond feelings — and great memories — of his quarter century at Longshore.

The course closed December 11, so he could not thank golfers personally for all their support over the years. “I’ve made many close friends,” Cooper says. “I’ll truly miss everyone. I wouldn’t trade a thing for this 25-year journey.”

John Cooper and his sons.

John Cooper and his sons.

He also thanks his employees “who stood with me,” and the “wonderful people at the Parks and Rec Department. They were great to work with.”

But of all the fantastic things that happened at Longshore, the best was meeting his former wife. Together, they had 2 “wonderful” kids: Dobson, a Staples junior, and Shane, a freshman at Fairfield Country Day School.

Cooper looks forward to spending more time with them.

“Life is good,” Cooper says.

And how good is it that — several decades ago — he spotted that set of clubs and used golf balls at a tag sale that everyone else has long since forgotten?

 

 

Longshore Ice Rink: The Coolest Place In Town

Whether the weather outside is frightful — or a winter wonderland — Longshore’s PAL Ice Rink is open.

It was even open this weekend, despite frighteningly tropical temperatures.

For 19 years, the open-air spot just a few yards from Long Island Sound has been one of Westport’s most popular winter destinations. Families, teenagers, tweens — even, last Friday at 2 p.m., a guy in his 40s skating leisurely circles all by himself — flock to our improbable but beloved rink.

For all that time — a few years before, even — the one constant has been Tony Lantier. A Montreal native who as a kid spent every waking moment on the ice — at indoor rinks and outdoor ponds — he came south for his wife’s job.

Tony Lantier, at the PAL Longshore Ice Rink.

Tony Lantier, at the PAL Longshore Ice Rink.

In Canada, Tony had been a property manager. Soon after arriving in Westport, he met Angelo De Caro. The owner of Splash wanted to increase winter business at his off-the-beaten-path restaurant. What better way than to offer skating?

Tony got to work. He rented a 100 x 60-foot rink. He found a chiller. He and De Caro enlisted the vast resources of Westport PAL.

For 3 years, the rink was a wintertime fixture in the Splash parking lot. But skaters were not exactly diners. Diners were not exactly pleased to have to park in another lot. When the old Longshore bathhouses were ready to be torn down, Tony saw an opportunity to move the rink.

He and Parks and Recreation director Stuart McCarthy collaborated on a multi-use new building. Joey Romeo would rent it during good weather, to sell burgers and fries. In the winter, Tony would rent it for use by skaters.

Longshore ice rink logo

The current rink is PAL’s 5th, and biggest. 200 feet long and 85 wide, it’s regulation size for hockey. The NHL won’t be playing matches there — but Staples’ boys and girls teams do. The large, board-banging crowds are great fun.

But — unlike other rinks in Fairfield County — hockey is not the main attraction. Lots of time is devoted to public skating. There are some lessons and private parties, plus an occasional low-key, late-night “pond hockey”-style group of hockey players. But most hours of most days — up to 11 p.m. — anyone can just skate.

And they do. Tony — who can talk for hours about ice, ice-making and ice maintenance — is proud that the rink operates virtually every day, from Thanksgiving weekend through early March. Only a drenching rain or humongous snowstorm closes it.

(And not always. Tony’s 50th birthday present was a state-of-the-art snow blower. He’s been known to pick up some up of his teenage employees after a heavy snow. They don’t have to drive in bad weather — but they can help him clear the rink.)

Rink maintenance is a full-time job.

Rink maintenance is a full-time job.

Black Friday was 67 degrees. But — thanks to 300 tons of refrigeration — the rink was open. And packed.

Skaters rely on it. Savvy ones know that a season pass — $150 for adults, $100 for children — is among the best bargains in town. The price includes not only unlimited skating, but skate rental or sharpening too.

Tweens make the rink their own on Friday and Saturday nights. In terms of a safe environment, the rink is this generation’s Arnie’s Place. Parents drop their kids off knowing they’ll have fun, and be looked after lovingly.

Tony loves everyone who skates. The other day, he spotted a 4-year-old wearing a Canadiens jersey. “Want to ride on the Zamboni?” he asked? He strapped her in, then took her on a special adventure.

Currier and Ives meets the PAL Longshore Ice Rink.

Currier and Ives meet the PAL Longshore Ice Rink.

Operating an outdoor rink is not cheap. Tony — who also owns Thin Ice Management, a consulting company that works with clients like the twin rinks at Shelton — spends $50,000 a year just to put in and take out the rink. His electric bill last year was $40,000.

But he loves what he does. His prices have not changed in 16 years.

“We don’t charge more. We just get better at what we do. And more people come,” he says.

He is a master of details. When the phone rings and he’s near, he answers it. The questions are invariably the same: “Are you open? How late?”

“I could let it go to the recording, with the same information,” he says. “But people want to hear a live voice.”

The rink’s website — redesigned recently by fellow Canadian and huge skating fan Michael Winser — includes a live webcam. It’s one more way to spread the word about Tony’s passion.

A screenshot from Saturday's live webcam. Lots of lessons went on that morning.

A screenshot from Saturday’s live webcam. Lots of lessons went on that morning.

“On  most days we have the best ice in Fairfield County,” he says. “I’m a perfectionist about it.”

About everything, really. He gets up at 3 a.m., to check (remotely) on the chiller. He’ll head to the rink from his nearby home at 6 a.m., just because he loves seeing the early-morning view, and breathing the bracing salt air.

Years ago, Ryan Partnership created an ad campaign for the PAL Longshore Ice Rink. “The coolest place in Westport,” they called it.

Now it’s the hottest too.

Compo Beach Plan Gets Rocky Reception

A member of the Compo Beach Master Plan Committee called last April’s public meeting — where opposition to new proposals, particularly perimeter parking, surfaced strongly — a “flash mob.”

Last night’s meeting at Town Hall — the 1st time the Parks and Recreation Commission reviewed the plan — was far less contentious. Citizens waited patiently through the consultants’ presentation of conceptual — not final — ideas, and a few commissioners’ questions, before speaking.

But when they spoke, they voiced a number of concerns.

As First Selectman Jim Marpe noted, Compo is used in “an amazing number of ways, and in common.” He spoke of the importance of investing in, upgrading and improving areas of the beach “where it makes sense.”

Compo Beach: a town jewel, beloved by all.

Compo Beach: a town jewel, beloved by all.

Introducing 2 plans — Options A and B — Consultants AKRF and Lothrop Associates expressed the hope that “everyone will like everything,” but cautioned, “no one will like everything.”

They sure didn’t.

Both plans show:

  • a new entrance across from Bradley Street, with permit pass-checking deeper into the beach than now exists
  • a driving loop around the beach, with perimeter pathways for walkers, joggers and bikers
  • an extended boardwalk, toward the cannons
  • exercise stations
  • upgraded bathrooms, lockers and Joey’s
  • redesigned marina promenade
  • unobstructed parking spaces
  • new trees
  • improved facilities (including a bathroom) on South Beach
  • a central lawn for picnics and special events, like Lobsterfest
  • new walkways along Soundview Drive and Compo Beach Road.

Option A pushes all parking back from the beach. Option B removes some of that, but allows some parking similar to what now exists on South Beach.

Both plans remove 200 to 300 parking spaces from the current number, which is around 1900.

Parking is one of the most contentious parts of the 2 beach proposals.

Parking is one of the most contentious parts of the 2 beach proposals.

Parks & Rec chair Charlie Haberstroh allowed youngsters to speak first. Several spoke eloquently and passionately of the need to retain the skate park. It does not appear in the current plans, but Parks & Rec director Stuart McCarthy said room could be made for it.

Then came comments from older folks. An early question covered costs. New buildings would run approximately $4 million; site work would be another $4 million. (Paving alone — included in site work — is about $2 million.)

Speakers zeroed in on specific concerns: Bradley Street will become more congested. The amount of asphalt and concrete that would be added to what are now “pervious” parking lots. The number of kayak racks that would be lost (none, McCarthy said).

Among the comments:

“You’re sacrificing 200 to 400 parking spaces for lawn and shrubs.”

“Parking and views are there 365 days a year. Traffic problems, they’re only 40 days or so.”

“I don’t understand all the talk about safety. The Sound is more dangerous than the beach.”

John Brandt referred back to an earlier speech. “You don’t fracture a gem,” the longtime Westporter said. “You polish it. We need to find a way to polish this gem.”

Compo Beach: a true town gem.

Compo Beach is a true town gem.

As Compo Beach Master Plan committee chair Andy Moss noted, plenty of dialogue and debate lie ahead. The Compo Beach proposals — which are still only design concepts — must still make their way through the Recreation Commission. Then comes the Planning and Zoning Commission, the selectmen, back to Parks & Rec, back to P&Z, and finally to the town’s funding bodies (Board of Finance and RTM).

Meanwhile, Westporters will continue to debate what they want — and don’t — for the town’s crown jewel.

The dialogue began last night. It can continue here. Click “Comments” — but please, be civil. Debate ideas; don’t castigate people. And use your full, real name.

About That Winslow Park Painting…

On many weekends over the past few years — probably while stuck at the Post Road/Compo Road traffic light — drivers have noticed a man and an easel in Winslow Park.

He’s set up on the grass. Facing banks on the other 3 corners, he’s been hard at work, painting.

Youngsters crowd around the unfinished painting.

Youngsters crowd around the unfinished painting.

Who is he?

Alert “06880” reader Russell Sherman reports that his name is Stanley Lewis. An accomplished artist, he’s finally finished his work.

It’s on display at the Betty Cunningham Gallery in New York, through October 25.

Stan Lewis Winslow Park painting

Lewis and his wife Karen live in Northampton, Massachusetts. But they spend a lot of time in Westport. Two of their 3 children — daughter Catherine and son Tim — have moved here.

Lewis loves Westport — and not just because he’s got 4 grandchildren in town, and the scenery is beautiful.

There are little things, like this: A year or so after he began painting, the town put up a new Winslow Park sign. It was right in the line of sight he was working on.

When Parks & Recreation director Stuart McCarthy heard of the problem, his crew moved the the sign.

Who says Westport is no longer an arts community?

Compo Beach Improvement Chair: “We Hear You Loud And Clear”

Town Hall’s Room 201 was jammed like the fireworks today, as the Compo Beach Site Improvement Committee met for the 1st time since Mike Calise’s public letter lamenting the proposed elimination of perimeter parking.

Chairman Andy Moss opened the meeting by acknowledging the SRO crowd. He said that the committee — whose charge is to “refresh our much-loved town asset” — would define its success by achieving compromise.

“We have no illusions we will please everyone,” the former Parks and Recreation Commission chair added.

Moss noted that the committee was examining issues relating to safety, traffic flow, improving South Beach, pedestrian and bike access and more.

Early arrivals examined a proposed Compo Beach site plan, before today's meeting.

Early arrivals examined a proposed Compo Beach site plan, before today’s meeting.

An unidentified consultant to the committee described the new beach plan. It includes a new entrance area opposite Bradley Street; a roundabout; an “activity area,” and 700 paved (“or gravel,” she quickly added) parking spaces.

A self-described 52-year resident of the town shouted, “Have there been many pedestrian accidents?”

Parks and Rec director Stuart McCarthy described the desire to keep cars and pedestrians separate. He emphasized that the plan was “conceptual,” and that the town and various boards would make the final decision.

Several speakers noted the importance of easy access to the beach for elderly users, and families with small children. A comment about New Yorkers taking “all the early spots” drew applause.

Committee member Skip Lane compared the new plan to a state park like Hammonasset or Sherwood Island, with centralized parking. In response, several speakers said that what is right for a state park does not work well for a town beach.

That caused an audience member to yell, “We’re fixing a problem that doesn’t exist. Please tell me the problem. I’ve been here since 1970, and I came because of Compo. It’s spectacular!”

Westporters never tire of the views from Compo.

Westporters never tire of life at Compo.

Moss pointed out various areas that need improvement: the brick wall near Joey’s destroyed by Hurricane Sandy; traffic that backs up to Owenoke; port-a-potties on South Beach.

“Rather than fixing things piecemeal, we’re looking at the big picture,” he said.

When RTM member Jack Klinge said that he was very pleased with the proposed new entrance and bathhouse, but had been asked by “hundreds” of seniors to protect convenient access to the bathhouse, Moss reiterated: “That’s coming through loud and clear.”

The back-and-forth continued. Bob Driscoll said, “I’ve been coming to the beach for 80 years, and it’s worked out pretty damn well.”

Every day at the beach is not, well, a day at the beach.  But even storm clouds can be beautiful.

Every day at the beach is not, well, a day at the beach. But even storm clouds can be beautiful.

A self-described “traffic and logistics guy” claimed the committee was taking a traffic and safety problem, and turning it into “a major reconstruction.”

Moss repeated, “I hear the concerns about parking along the beach. That’s very important to hear.”

Recent Staples graduate Hannah Dickison had the last word. “I’ve seen a lot of changes here in 10 years,” she said. “Please don’t chip away at the beach too.”

After most of the crowd left, the committee turned its attention to policy issues. Among other things, they discussed the removal of the skate park, and the importance of parking revenue from out-of-towners.

(The committee’s next meeting is Wednesday, April 23, at 5:30 p.m. in Town Hall Room 201. To follow the progress of the committee, and make comments, click here.)

 

 

 

Fore!

When the Longshore golf course closed for the winter, it was not in good shape.

The next few months were not exactly kind.

But as spring takes its first, tentative — and very late — steps, an air of excitement hovers over all 18 holes.

Parks and Recreation director Stuart McCarthy sent an email yesterday to golfers. Acknowledging that course conditions over the past 2 seasons have “not met your expectations,” he outlined many steps being taken to “restoring the greens to championship condition.”

Perhaps the most important is outsourcing maintenance to ValleyCrest. The company — which services over 75 courses nationwide — introduces itself Monday, April 21 (7 p.m., Town Hall auditorium) in a public meeting.

New superintendent Ryan Segrue will be there. By that time, the Stanwich Club and Lake Isle Country Club veteran will already have performed a deep tine aeration of the greens.

A view of the Longshore course, courtesy of Golf Digest. ValleyCrest is working hard to get the links looking like this again.

A view of the Longshore course, courtesy of Golf Digest. ValleyCrest is working hard to get the links looking like this again.

The course is anticipated to open on or around Friday, April 18. In celebration, for every 18-hole round played through May 23, the golfer will receive a voucher for a free round good any time during the 2014 season.

The nearby practice range at Hendricks Point is temporarily closed. Hurricane Sandy exposed the landfill, and — after finally getting DEP permits — restabilization work is underway.

Finally, Longshore pro John Cooper has unveiled a new and improved website.  www.LongshoreGolf.com includes the latest course information (frost delays, conditions, etc.), a calendar of events, a Twitter feed, tips from the pros and more.

It’s been a rough patch for Longshore golfers — and the staff that serves them. 2014 will be far more than par for the course.

 

Marpe Requests Longshore Tree Removal Delay

Westport First Selectman Jim Marpe issued the following statement today:

I have asked for a temporary delay in the removal of 15 trees along the entrance to Longshore Club Park.

Since this is a new issue for me and my administration, Westport tree warden Bruce Lindsay will prepare for my review a written report outlining his analysis and confirming his recommendation that the trees be removed.

I have the utmost confidence in, and respect for, Mr. Lindsay, who recently came to Westport with excellent credentials in this field. However, in view of the importance of this issue and the discussion which it has generated, I have requested that Mr. Lindsay temporarily delay the tree removal and to prepare this report.

Upon receipt and analysis of the report, which of course will be shared with the public, I will determine the appropriate next steps. It is anticipated that a public meeting will be held to review the Tree Warden’s analysis and recommendations.

I should note that the Longshore trees have been the topic of much analysis and planning by the Town for many years.  Twenty years ago, new trees were planted by the Parks and Recreation Department in anticipation of the replacement need.  There are now approximately 75 younger and healthier trees lining the Longshore entrance.  Most recently, in September 2013, Parks and Recreation Director Stuart McCarthy brought this matter to the Parks and Recreation Commission, which had a public meeting to discuss the need for the tree removal.

I look forward to receiving Mr. Lindsay’s report soon and sharing it with the public.

Longshore trees tagged for removal along the entrance road.

Longshore trees tagged for removal along the entrance road.

It Doesn’t Just Clean Itself

Last night, Compo Beach was jam-packed. Over 10,000 people crammed every available picnic table, wall and grain of sand to watch the fireworks.

They spent plenty of time eating, drinking and playing too.

When it was over, they left. And left behind literally tons of trash. Food, bottles, shoes, umbrellas, beach chairs, beach toys — the beach was, to use the technical term, a “f—in’ mess.”

By 8 this morning — just a few hours after the last revelers left their “stuff” — the beach was perfect. Pristine. Ready for another day of illegal table-saving:

cleanup ABut it didn’t just happen. Dozens of Parks & Rec employees worked feverishly to get Compo ship-shape. They picked up garbage. They hauled it away. And they groomed the sand.

Compo Beach cleanup

Compo Beach cleanup

Stuart McCarthy, Dan DeVito and the entire Parks & Rec Department do a fantastic job all year. The post-fireworks transformation may be their most remarkable feat of all.

The next time you see those guys (and gals), give them a thumb’s-up. Or thank them.

You might even offer them a cold one.

Water, that is. They’re on the job!

Compo’s Last Century — And Next

Compo Beach may soon look different. But this time changes will come from us  — not nature.

Within the next few weeks Parks & Rec will issue a Request for Proposals. Engineering and design firms will bid on a master plan.

The Westport News quoted director Stuart McCarthy as saying the days of people “going to the beach, lathering themselves in suntan oil, and sitting in a chair” are over. Now everyone walks, jogs, bikes, pushes strollers, flies kites, launches windsurfers — you name it. And a lot more of us do it, too.

There's always plenty of activity at Compo Beach.

There’s always plenty of activity at Compo Beach.

Noting the sorry state of bathhouses and bathrooms, and the crowded entrances and exits, Compo Beach Association president Skip Lane said the beach “hasn’t been improved or really looked at in 100 years.”

Well, not quite.

In fact, the beach has seen many changes over the past century. (Historical reference point: The cannons were dedicated in 1910, 103 years ago. If they’d been there in 1777, maybe the British would not have landed and marched up to Danbury.)

For over 100 years, the cannons have been a Compo Beach icon. This painting is by Thomas N. Graves.

For over 100 years, the cannons have been a Compo Beach icon. This painting is by Thomas N. Graves.

A wooden bathing pavilion was built in 1919; 750 bathhouses were rented by the hour. (Sounds sketchy, I know.)

By 1927, what we now call the “pavilion” — the open-air area with a few benches between the volleyball courts and beach — was a handsome 2-story affair, featuring dining and dancing.

A small lifeguard cottage, trimmed by a nice garden, sat by the water’s edge.

But as Roaring 20s-ish as that all sounds, the beach itself was awful. It was filled with rocks — good-sized ones, this being New England. It took a few more decades before Compo became the sandy beach we know today.

The wooden bathhouses, with a boardwalk over the sand -- and the 2-story pavilion in the distance.

The wooden bathhouses, with a boardwalk over the sand — and the 2-story pavilion in the distance.

Anchored offshore — until about 1960 or so — were several large rafts. They were popular spots for diving, sunbathing, and teenagers trying to impress each other.

I don’t know why they were removed, but I bet liability was an issue. Things are much worse today, of course. If McDonald’s has to warn customers that coffee is hot, we’ll never see those rafts again.

Even through the 1950s, oldtimers say, the beach along Soundview Drive — from the drop-off area to Hillspoint Road — was considered “private.” It wasn’t, of course, but many Westporters asked permission of Soundview residents before sitting down to lather on suntan oil.

A scene from the late 1940s or early '50. (Postcard courtesy of CardCow.com)

A scene from the late 1940s or early ’50. (Postcard courtesy of CardCow.com)

In my coming-of-age age — let’s call it the Age of Aquarius — Chubby Lane ran the concession stand. It was located where the volleyball courts are now. And with parking right outside, you didn’t need a sticker to drive up, order one of the best cheeseburgers known to man, and hang out until someone told you to move.

Chubby had another great way of boosting business. Employees — wearing blue button-down shirts, and high knee socks — roamed the beach taking orders. They called them in by walkie-talkie, and tied a balloon around a beach chair. Soon, another employee delivered the food.

The playground has changed over the years too. A carousel once sat near the basketball court, along with monkey bars and other stuff. The playground we now know was built in the late 1980s, in a burst of community spirit and volunteer labor — but not until a full-blown, nasty, typical Westport controversy wound through court.

Neighbors complained that the playground would ruin “the vista,” and send property values plummeting. It would also attract rowdy teenagers, who’d drink, do drugs and have sex. 

Today, of course, the Compo Beach playground is one of the first things realtors show to prospective buyers. And kids party safely in their own basements.

It's a full house at the Compo Beach playground.

It’s a full house at the Compo Beach playground.

So no, the beach has not just sat there, unchanging, for 100 years. Plenty has happened. Some of it’s good; some bad. Some has been planned; some not. I haven’t even mentioned the changes — to the coastline, the seawalls, the structures themselves — wrought by weather.

(Side note: A month ago, I wondered how Parks & Rec would ever get the post-Sandy beach ready for this summer. Thanks to a herculean effort — with help from Public Works and Kowalsky — it looks great. )

Back in the Carter administration, I was a young pup serving on a committee aimed at — surprise! — improving Compo Beach. Planning consultants were hired. They looked at the beach from all kinds of angles, and with fresh eyes. One of their proposals was to move parking away from the sand. “Reclaim the beach!” the consultants said. “People don’t need to drive that close to the water.”

No way, our committee said. This is Westport. People have always parked there, and they always will.

Let’s hope this next engineering and design firm comes up with some creative, reimagined ideas for the beach. They might even suggest diverting cars away from the water.

Hey, you never know.

Back in the day, cars parked even closer to the water than they do now.

Back in the day, cars parked even closer to the water than they do now. Check out the rocky beach. too.

Town May Outsource Longshore Golf Course Maintenance

The town’s Request for Proposal (RFP) to redevelop the Gunn House — the 1885 Queen Anne house at 35 Church Lane, soon to give way to the new Bedford Square development — has gotten plenty of publicity.

But another RFP is equally intriguing.

Westport is also soliciting proposals for professional turf and grounds maintenance of the Longshore golf course.

The Longshore golf course. (Photo by Dan Murdoch, via LongshoreGolf.com)

The Longshore golf course. (Photo by Dan Murdoch, via LongshoreGolf.com)

The official notice — posted today — says:

The contractor will be assuming maintenance services historically performed by town personnel. The contractor will report to the town’s Director of Parks and Recreation and work cooperatively with the Head Golf Pro, as is customary for a public golf course.

According to Parks and Rec director Stuart McCarthy, his department and the Golf Advisory Committee have discussed this move for “a couple of years.”

Professional maintenance contractors are “a trend in the industry,” McCarthy says.

“It’s logical to investigate this. Particularly with the issues the course had last year, it makes sense.”

A view of the Longshore course, courtesy of Golf Digest.

A view of the Longshore course, courtesy of Golf Digest.

McCarthy says the RFP is posted with 3 goals: “maintain the course at the highest quality possible; maintain it as efficiently as possible from a cost standpoint, and look at long-term costs too.”

He stresses that the RFP does not mean a professional maintenance contractor must be hired. “We want to explore our options,” the Parks and Rec director says. “We need to investigate all possible opportunities.”

The bid is due June 19. The contract is for a 3-year period, beginning January 1, 2014.

(Click here to view the official Request for Proposal.)