Tag Archives: Westport Parks & Rec

Parks & Rec Spring, Summer Signups Begin March 14

Back in the day, registration for Parks & Recreation spring and summer programs — including Camp Compo — meant driving down to Longshore, standing in line in a grungy office, going back home for whatever documents you forgot, then doing it all over again.

Eventually the offices were renovated. Mail-in registration was added. But folks still forgot stuff.

Now the process is all online. You know immediately what you’ve forgotten.

So mark your calendars. Online registration begins Wednesday, March 14 at 9 a.m. NOTE: Many programs fill quickly.

A login and password are necessary. Parks & Rec advises taking care of that now, if you don’t have one. Click here to create an account. Questions? Email recreation@westportct.gov before March 9.

If you still like the old ways — walk-in, mail or fax (!) — it begins Monday, March 19.

That’s the same day (March 19) that beach stickers — or “emblems,” as Parks & Rec calls them — go on sale online (and in person).

Usually that’s a ho-hum affair. But with fewer stickers on sale to non-residents — 350, down from 600 last summer — out-of-towners should mark the date on their calendars.

Otherwise, you might get left out in the cold.

And Parks & Rec employees who work in that office don’t want to feel your heat.

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!

Someone Had A Beach Party…

…and this is the result:

Compo Beach

Alert — and disgusted — “06880” reader Diane Lowman snapped this photo earlier today.

It reeked, she noted. The party-goers did put their crap near the trash can — but they made no effort to bag it, or take it to an adjacent empty trash container.

Diane added, “Of course when we walked by again the amazing Parks & Rec staff had cleaned it up.”

Still, not the most auspicious start to summer.

Drips And Drops From Irene

With power back on here at “06880” headquarters — my house — we’re ready to report stories, observations, thoughts and photos from the long-anticipated, the-jury’s-still-out-on-its-hype Hurricane Irene.

Alert “06880” reader Denise Nicoletti reports:  “Several people, including my son Chris and I, were at Starbucks downtown.  A very kind hearted soul went out and bought a power strip for everyone!”

Equally alert reader Andy Kaplan saw a similar Starbucks-related random act of post-storm kindness:  “Early this morning, there were a couple of CL&P trucks repairing power lines at the intersection of Gault and Imperial.  A guy in a Land Rover pulls up, and hands out Starbucks coffee to the entire crew.”

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Very alertly, reader John Karrel emailed:  “The Burying Hill Beach parking area looks more like a bad minor-league infield right now, post-Irene.  I wonder if it’d be worth trying to organize a dozen+ strong types to dig out and sweep off the lot this Friday afternoon, prior to the long weekend?  It would tick one item off what must be a substantial Parks & Rec punch-list/budget.”

I said to myself:  What a great idea!  I’ve got nearly 100 strong boys trying out for Staples soccer right now.  School is off until Wednesday; they’ve got time on their hands, and no doubt would love to impress the coaches work hard.

But it made sense to check in first with Parks and Rec director Stuart McCarthy.  I wouldn’t want to rain on his parade.

Stuart thanked me profusely for the offer.  But, he ventured, it might not be a job for high school boys — as fit as they are.

“I’ve got 2 front-end loaders from Kowalsky down there right now,” he said.  “They say the sand’s almost too heavy for them.”

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John Hooper of Christie’s Country Store was hit by Irene not once, but twice.  He, his wife Renee and son Nash were in Puerto Rico when the hurricane hit that island.  They returned to Westport Friday night, just in time for the 2nd coming.

“My poor son’s 9th birthday was yesterday, and of course no  power,” John says.

“So I packed up the clan (2 employees rode out the storm with us), dodged downed trees in Greenfield Hill and made it to Christie’s, where the new generator was humming along.  Many folk stopped by looking for coffee, food, conversation.  We stayed open till 9;30.

“It’s been the same way today.  I just sold out of ice, and the bakery couldn’t make it — but Chefy was here at 5 a.m., baking bread.”

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Finally:  Metro North had its hands full this weekend (still does, in fact).  So we’re not trying to pile on.

Still, this sign caught our eye.  In its own, strange-spelling way, it manages to convey the essence of the situation, in calm, collected, almost Zen-like prose:

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

On Monday, Parks & Rec installed a spiffy awning over the gatehouse at the Compo Beach entrance.

So what was the reaction of the teenagers and 20somethings who work all day checking beach stickers, collecting fees, and answering the same questions over and over and over again?

They hate it.

“It looks ugly,” one attendant said yesterday.

“It blocks the sign telling people what to pay,” another noted — not that non-resident drivers read the sign anyway.

“It stops my tan,” a 3rd employee chimed in, with the youthful assurance of someone who got her summer job for just that reason.

“I don’t mind skin cancer,” she added.

High School Students: Help Westport This Morning!

Parks and Rec director Stuart McCarthy has put out the call:

High school students are needed to help shovel sand at Compo Beach this morning (Wednesday).

Please be there at 11 a.m. — and bring a flat shovel!

Parks And Rec Spares Trees

A tip of “06880”‘s all-natural cap to Westport’s Parks and Rec Department.

A small postcard informs residents that, starting Monday at 9 a.m., program registration, parking stickers and handpasses are available online.  Walk-in sales and program registration begins March 22.

That means the town won’t mail bulky, several-page forms — in large envelopes — to every household in town.  I’m not sure how many trees that saves, but it’s a smart, 21st-century move.

And one that the US Census Bureau should emulate.  The other day I received their letter, telling me that soon I’ll receive a census form.  When I get it, they said, I should return it.

Whew.  You can imagine how surprised I’d be to get a census form without knowing it was coming.  No way I could have figured out I was supposed to mail it back.

(For detailed Parks & Rec information, click here.)

Smiling John Kluchnick

You may not know John Kluchnick’s name.

But you know his smiling face:

John Kluchnick

For 21 years, John has worked for Westport Parks & Rec.  These days he’s a roving custodian, caring for Compo Beach, Burying Hill and Longshore.  Before that, he was on a garbage truck.  He spent his first 13 years full-time at Compo — trimming hedges, clearing brush, cleaning the facilities.

He started out in Westport doing electrical, carpentry and maintenance work for the Board of Education.

It’s been an enjoyable life.  “I’m happy whatever I do,” John says.  “I’ve been blessed to wake up every morning happy to go to work.  I’ve had a variety of tasks, and they’ve always been pleasurable.”

The best part of his jobs — by far — has been the people.

“Whether it’s the golf course, the beach, wherever, I like saying ‘good morning’ to everyone,” John explains.  “I really like people.”

He’s enjoyed working for bosses like Carl Eaton and Tim Burke, and with “top shelf” head lifeguards like Megan Tiley.

As for the public:  “The majority of them, I don’t know their names,” John says.  “But young, old — 95 percent of them, I’ve enjoyed their company.  I hope they enjoyed mine.”

In his entire career, John has only 1 regret.  One day he reprimanded a young boy, maybe 12 years old.  “He was right, and I was wrong,” John says.  “But I never saw him again.  I never got a chance to make amends, and say I was sorry.”

John’s roots in Westport are unshakable.  A Westport native, he played on the Staples basketball team.  The only time he’s spent away came  after graduation in 1961:  He served on a diesel sub in Groton.

Twice, John ran for 1st selectman.  “I wanted to say what was in my heart about our town,” he explains.

“I came in 3rd both times,” he laughs.  That’s his way of putting a positive spin on finishing last.

Next Tuesday is John’s last day on the job.  He’s retiring — but he’s not leaving the town where he was born and raised.

Among his many plans:  serving lunch at the Senior Center.  “It’s time to give back to Westport,” he says, oblivious to the fact that all his life,  he’s done just that.

His impending retirement has been kept fairly quiet.  John notes:  “It’s been rainy, so I haven’t seen a lot of people.”

Yeah, it’s rained for weeks on end.

But in John Kluchnick’s world, the sun always shines.