Tag Archives: Westport Parks & Recreation Commission

Roundup: Winslow Park, Tarry Lodge, Dunkin’ …

In May, “06880” published the sad story of Winnie the Pooh.

Fifth grader Alex Johnson eulogized his dog. It had run through a break in the Winslow Park stone wall, and been struck and killed by a car on Compo Road North.

Thanks to the efforts of the Johnsons — and many others — tragedies like those may soon be diminished.

Last week, Westport’s Parks & Recreation Commission voted unanimously to fill in 3 breaks, in the park’s off-leash area.

The plan includes split-rail fencing, backed by “nearly invisible” mesh fencing, plus a 3 1/2-foot gate at each of those 3 areas. (Hat tip: Tricia Freeman)

Winnie The Pooh.

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The Sweet Remains are a highlight of every Levitt Pavilion season.

But last night’s concert was extra special. The usual local pride — Sweet Remains leader Greg Naughton grew up in Weston, and lives in Westport — swelled when the trio was joined onstage by Greg’s wife, Broadway star Kelli O’Hara; his father James, the noted actor, and sister Keira.

Alert “06880” reader/longtime music fan/superb photographer Tom Kretsch reports: “It was a truly incredible evening, with a packed crowd enthralled by the group’s performance.”

The Sweet Remains, with James Naughton, Keira Naughton and Kelli O’Hara.

Levitt Pavilion, last night (Photos/Tom Kretsch)

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What’s up with Tarry Lodge?

Recently, alert and hungry reader Patti Brill has noticed the “unkempt” appearance of the Charles Street restaurant. Yesterday, it looked like it was closed.

I checked the website. Nothing unusual; it was taking reservations and pickup orders.

I called. I was about to hang up when — on the 10th ring — a recording said, “We are pleased to announce our new hours.”

That’s usually a euphemism for “shorter hours.” I don’t know their previous schedule, but according to the chirpy voice, Tarry Lodge is open Wednesdays through Friday from 4 to 9:30 p.m., Saturdays from noon to 9:30 p.m., and Sundays from noon to 8 p.m.

This was Sunday. I pressed “2” to order by phone.

Nothing. Nada. Zippo for some za.

If any reader knows more, click “Comments” below.

Tarry Lodge, yesterday. (Photo/Patti Brill)

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Around the corner from Tarry Lodge, the Bridge Square Dunkin’ Donuts is definitely open.

Alert “06880” reader John Karrel was there this morning.

The music playing in the background was a bit mystifying: Christmas carols.

Hey! Only 153 shopping days left.

Meanwhile, in other Dunkin’ news, a large sign promises that the Compo Shopping Center spot — newly relocated from across from Fresh Market — opens in 3 days.

We’ll soon find out which is more dangerous: The drive-thru Starbucks, or its competitor in an already overcrowded and dangerous plaza.

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Today’s “westport … Naturally” feature shows a serene Sherwood Mill Pond weekend scene. And how did you spend your Saturday evening?

(Photo/Gary Weist)

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And finally … if you missed the Sweet Remains last night — or want to hear more — click below:

 

 

 

Roundup: Iain And Linda Bruce, Hotel Marcel, Bayberry Bridge …

Dozens of Iain and Linda Bruce’s many friends, colleagues and fellow civic volunteers gathered at the Westport Library last night to say thanks and farewell.

After 33 years in Westport — and countless contributions in all areas of town life, from the Westport Weston Family Y and Library to music, schools, religion and RTM — the couple are moving at the end of this week.

They head to York, Maine where they’ve had a second home for years. They’ll jump right into community activities there (and Iain will pursue a master’s in history at his alma mater, Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario).

Iain and Linda have made Westport a much better place. Our loss is Maine’s gain. Thank you both. And of course, we look forward to seeing you whenever you want to head south.

Iain Bruce — always proud of his Scottish heritage — wore a kilt at last night’s event. His wife Linda shared the stage, as both made very brief remarks. (Photo/Dan Woog)

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Every I-95 driver knows the former Armstrong Rubber/Pirelli headquarters in New Haven. That’s Marcel Breuer’s 1960s-era concrete box on the left as you head north, just before the I-91 merge.

It was vacant for quite a while. But 3 years ago, Westport architect/developer Bruce Becker bought the Brutalist building.

After extensive renovations, this spring he’ll open the Hotel Marcel. The 165-room boutique hotel runs generates and manages all its own power, thanks to solar panels, storage batteries and state-of-the-art energy-saving technologies.

It’s called the first zero-net-energy hotel in the U.S.

Connecticut Magazine has published an in-depth, fascinating story on Becker, and the hotel.

It quotes architect Duo Dickinson: “Bruce Becker is changing architecture more than any other practitioner in New England and perhaps America.”

The story notes: “a structure created a half-century ago by an innovative designer (Marcel Breuer) is returned to vibrant life by another innovative designer bent on changing the way we think about energy, built environments and our future.” Click here for the full story. And click here for an “06880” on Becker’s zero-energy Westport home. (Hat tip: Dennis Jackson)

PS: One more Westport connection: Saugatuck’s LANDTECH is the Hotel Marcel’s site/civil engineer.

Bruce Becker, in front of his new Hotel Marcel. (Photo/Ned Gerard for Connecticut Magazine)

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They’re not big news. But a couple of agenda items for the next Parks & Recreation Commission meeting (Wednesday, April 27, 7:30 p.m., Zoom) seem interesting.

Commissioners will be asked to disband the Levitt Pavilion sub-committee. The agenda says: “As part of her review of the Town’s various sub-committees, the First Selectwoman has decided that she would like the Levitt Pavilion committee to report directly to her office. In order to do so, the sub-committee of the Parks and Recreation Commission must be disbanded.”

More impactful may be a proposed moratorium on bench donations.

According to the agenda: “Many of our beach and park facilities are over-saturated with memorial benches. Staff are presently reviewing the current policy while we also work to create standards that will be used going forward for any new installations.

“Until we have more detailed information that we can provide to the Commission, we request a moratorium be placed on all new bench requests until further notice.”

Click here for the full agenda, and meeting information.

Compo Beach memorial benches (Photo/Anne Ziff)

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The Bayberry Lane Bridge over the Aspetuck River will be closed for construction. The project starts Thursday, and is slated to run through November 30 (fingers crossed)

So that means — according to the sign below — Bayberry Lane #2 is closed.

There’s just one problem. There is no road called “Bayberry Lane #2.”

In fact, there’s not any road in Westport ending in “#2.”

Or probably anywhere else in the country. (Hat tip: Bill Dedman)

(Photo/Bill Dedman)

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Yesterday’s post-Easter and pre-Arbor Day festivities at Jesup Green included egg hunting and a tree giveaway.

Bartlett Tree Experts donated red maple saplings. Westport Tree Board members handled the rest.

Westport Tree Board members on the left are Dave Lowrie and Dick Stein. Ed Picard is on the right.

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lotsa lotsa kids egg hunting!  Here’s a pic of some interested neighbors acquiring a red maple sapling, donated by Bartlett Tree Co.  (sorry didn’t know the pic was being taken so didn’t get their names.)   Tree board members left to right are;  yours truly, Dick Stein and Ed Picard far right

Congratulations and thanks to the Westport Police Department, Westport Womans Club, Sunrise Rotary and Homes with Hope, for collaborating on yesterday’s food drive at Stop & Shop.

Thanks too to all who donated, to support the Gillespie Center food pantry, and Westport Human Services.

Volunteers at yesterday’s food drive. From left: Marty Berger, Paul Keblish, Anna Rycenga, Rob Hauck, Andy Berman, Tom Lowrie, Joe Watson.

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Can there be anything more natural than the tides?

Jonathan Prager contributes today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo: timeless tides, and their aftermath at Compo Beach.

(Photo/Jonathan Prager)

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And finally … in honor of the photo above:

 

[OPINION] Parks & Rec: Give Former Residents A (Beach) Break!

Mark and Jan Marcus lived in Westport for nearly 60 years. Both were involved in nearly every facet of the community: volunteer work, politics, religion.

For example, Mark served on the Board of Selectmen, was vice chair of the Planning & Zoning Commission, and a member of the Westport Charter Revision Committee and Board of Assessment Appeals.

As 3rd Selectman, he helped establish a policy with the Parks & Recreation Department that provided free swim lessons for every Westport child.

Jan was a justice of the peace. She sang in the Saugatuck Congregational Church choir, was a member of the Democratic Town Committee and Democratic Women of Westport, and volunteered in every town election from 1962 — when she and Mark married — through the mid-2000s.

After Mark — a 1958 Staples High School graduate — died in 2020 at 79, Jan had  to sell her home. She moved closer to her daughter and son-in-law — both Staples grads — who live elsewhere in Fairfield County.

She asks: “Is it true that non-residents have to pay $700 for a beach parking sticker?”

No, that’s not true.

It’s actually $775.

In 2018, Mark Marcus took this photo. It shows years of his family’s beach stickers.

The other day, Jan wrote to me:

“I am heartbroken. As a died-in-the-wool Westporter yourself, you know how being able to drive to Compo or Burying Hill to park and look at the Sound, or walk, or sit at a picnic table with a sandwich from Gold’s is embedded in the fabric of your being.

“To me, it does not seem right that someone who was so much a part of the town, and who like Mark, gave so much in public service to our community, is required to pay the same high price for access to the beaches that is paid by a non-resident with no connection to Westport, who just wants to get into the beaches.

“Is there something ‘06880’ could do to influence the Parks & Recreation Commission to establish a lower price for former residents? I, and I’m sure others like me, would be deeply appreciative.”

Unfortunately, “06880” has no magic wand. If I did, this would be a great reason to wave it.

Fortunately though, we do have our “Comments” section. How about it, readers: Does Jan’s idea have merit?

Is there — ethically and legally — a way to grandfather (and grandmother) in former residents?

And on a related note, what about charging them — or anyone — without a sticker a lower rate after, say, 5 p.m., for all the sunset lovers out there?

Click “Comments” below. Please use your real name. If it’s relevant, let us know how long you’ve been going to the beach.

And whether you still can.

Who doesn’t love a Compo Beach sunset? (Photo/Lauri Weiser)

Roundup: Pink Aid, Bagels, Pickleball …

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Like many charities, Pink Aid CT has pivoted this year to a virtual event.

They’re calling it “virtuous.” Hundreds of items –will be auctioned off starting Tuesday (October 5, 9 a.m.). Among them:

  • A flight on Marc Lasry’s private jet to sit courtside and watch the NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks
  • Private safari for 2 in Tanzania
  • VIP seating at Christian Siriano’s fall 2022 show, with backstage passes.

All funds raised benefit women with breast cancer in underserved communities.

A video about the event features the auction’s host, Westporter and “A Million Little Things” star Stephanie Szostak.

For auction tickets and more, click here.

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Adam Goldberg’s pop-up bagel project at the Manna Hub kitchen has grown into a full-time operation. It’s packed on weekends, and a full-time store opens soon in Georgetown.

Now he’s going even bigger time. Adam was the only out-of-state vendor invited to compete at this weekend’s Brooklyn Bagelfest.

Can a little Westport bagel guy beat the big boys at their own game? Fingers crossed. Stay tuned!

Behind the scenes in the Don Memo kitchen. From left: Rachel Golan,.David Levinson
Jason Epstein, Adam Goldberg. (Photo/Ria Rueda)

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Leonard Everett Fisher is a Westport icon. He’s a World War II veteran, a civic volunteer — and, for over 70 years, a nationally enowned illustrator, painter and designer.

He’s being honored through the end of the year by the Westport Library. An exhibit of his work — “A Life of Art” — is open at the Sheffer and South Galleries.

Fisher has written and illustrated hundreds of children’s books, and created over 700 paintings and 6000 scratch boards. The Library show features many original illustrations and acrylic paintings. 

It’s an exhibit not to be missed. Before you go, click here (then scroll down) for a virtual studio tour of this remarkable man.

Leonard Everett Fisher at Westport’s 2016 Memorial Day ceremonies.

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The agenda for Wednesday’s Parks & Recreation Commission meeting (7:30 p.m., Zoom) includes a discussion of possible pickleball sites.

The meeting ID is 879 8059 1192. The passcode is 480909.

The Compo Beach pickleball courts get plenty of use.

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Two great Nash’s Corner businesses are offering 20% off deals for new customers. You can combine them, or just take advantage of one.

Felicia’s Salon Nash — run by the wonderful Felicia Catale — provides cuts for women, men, girls and boys. with blowouts and coloring too. Call 203-747-9753 and 203-349-5814.

For 20% off 3D synthetic mink eyelashes — usually $180, now $144 — at Nash’s Lashes by Judy, call 203- 557-8964,

Felicia Catale

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On October 1, 1961 — 60 years ago yesterday — Roger Maris broke Babe Ruth’s home run record.

A young Westporter named Robert Mull was there. It was the first Major League game he ever saw. His father captured all of Maris’ at-bats that day — including the shot off Tracy Stallard, his hat tip and more.

Now Mull has posted the video online. Click here to see. (Speaking of hat tips: thanks, Fred Cantor!)

Screenshot from the Roger Maris video.

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The other day, Chris Grimm was scrolling through a site that sells t-shirts of defunct Connecticut businesses. (I didn’t ask for details.) He found this classic for Arnie’s Place, the video game arcade that is now Ulta:

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Next up for the Westport Astronomical Society: NASA astrophysicist Scott Guzewich discusses “Roving Mars with Curiosity and Perseverance.”

It’s a clever title, and is sure to be out of this world. Click on the October 19 (8 p.m.) links: Zoom and YouTube livestream.

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The National Charity League’s Westport chapter invites 6th grade girls to apply for the 2022-23 year. NCL With over 275 members, the local group provides volunteer service for over 30 community organizations. Members are women and their daughters in grades 7-12.

The 6-year core program includes leadership development and cultural activities. For more information click here, or email lisa22607@gmail.com.

The National Charity League gang takes a break from volunteer work.

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The good news: Rebecca Schussheim, Lucia Wang and Tom Zhang  will represent Staples High School at the 8th annual Normandy International Youth Leadership Summit next month.. They were chosen because of their academic performance and interest in world affairs.

The bad news: This year’s event is virtual, so they don’t get to go to France.

But congratulations anyway, on a great achievement!

(From left): Rebecca Schussheim,Lucia Wang, Tom Zhang.

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Samera Nasereddin describes today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo:

“Two baby raccoons visited our garden, and delighted my cat and me. They were very curious, unafraid and non-aggressive. We sent a photo to a local expert, who told us they were healthy 3-4-month-olds, learning how to fend for themselves. I’m so grateful for their sweet visit. I hope that they continue to be safe and healthy, wherever they are now.”

(Photo/Samera Nasereddin)

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And finally … It’s been a long time since I’ve thought of Roger Maris. But seeing his name — and the video of his 61st home run — made me think of other famous players.

And of course:

Steve Axthelm: Build The Skate Park!

Steve Axthelm is one of those unheralded, overlooked, under- (as in “non-“) paid volunteers who make Westport what it is.

He served for many years on the Parks & Recreation Commission, and the board of Westport Baseball & Softball. His goal was to give everyone an opportunity to play sports, have fun, and enjoy Westport’s amenities.

Two weeks ago — when the sale of his house closed — Steve resigned from both posts. He and his wife Laura headed to North Carolina.

Steve Axthelm, with his skatebaords.

Here’s his final message to Parks & Rec — and to the town he’s loved, and given so much to:

“It has been an honor to serve on the Westport Parks & Recreation Commission. I’m proud of what we have accomplished together, and think we have been an example of a group that puts serving the community over politics or personal desires.

“I’m especially pleased with what we were able to accomplish at Compo Beach, especially the walkways and the bathroom on South Beach to provide accessibility and enjoyment to all. The stewardship and improvement of the town’s parks and sports facilities has been steadfast. Thanks go to Charlie Haberstroh and my fellow commissioners, and to Jen Fava and her team for outstanding work over the years.

“One regret: we did not get the skate park done. It is severely outdated, and an eyesore at Compo. No other sports group has to use such a poor facility in Westport.

The Compo Beach skate park.

“A beautiful concrete skatepark will be an enhancement to Compo and a boon to a robust skateboarding community. Skate Camp counselor Gabriel Dick and Skate Camp director James Bowles will rally the skateboarding community for fundraising.

James Bowles and Gabe Dick, at a rally 8 years ago to save the Compo skate park.

“In the past skateboarding was an afterthought, and participants were sometimes characterized as misfits (hmmm, I was a skateboarder when I was a grommet, inventing gnarly moves to grind the dinosaurs). It is simply a great sport in which to hone athleticism and creativity. And now it is an Olympic Sport.

“Our skateboarders and our town deserve this. Let’s get it built!

Skate park at a beach.

Westport Softball Honors “Ax”

Baseball is big in Westport. Our Little League team reached the national championship. Staples has won state titles. All around town, are diamonds are forever filled.

Fast-pitch softball may not get as much publicity. But it’s thriving too.

There is a dedicated softball community, and a decorated history as well.

Last, night, Steve Axthelm — one of its driving forces for more than 2 decades — was honored.

The site was appropriate: Meyer Field. It’s named for Bill Meyer — the father of Westport softball — and Axthelm has picked up where Meyer left off.

Axthelm — who is also a member of Westport’s Parks & Recreation Commission — has spent more than 20 years as head of Westport Softball. He was honored at a ceremony before the Little League Majors championship game, complete with a sign that will hang next to the many championship banners won under his leadership.

Steve Axthelm, at last night’s ceremony. He’s joined by Staples High School varsity softball players (from left) Sophia Alfero, Grace Alfero, Ally Schwartz and Ava Vincini.

Axthelm was introduced to competitive softball like many Westport dads: through his children. But unlike many parent volunteers, he did not stop when his kids’ playing days were over. He continued to lead the program, advocatint for funding and access on behalf of Westport’s youth softball players.

His efforts resulted in 7 district, 2 divisional, 4 sectional and 4 state championships.

Some of the players from those dominant youth teams led Staples to a successful season this year, advancing to the FCIAC semifinals and the state quarterfinals. They fell to archrivals Fairfield Ludlowe in both tournaments.

Axthelm says, “I’m proud to have run a program dedicated to 2 sometimes conflicting missions: give girls the skills to compete at a high level and prepare them to play at Staples (in a few cases, beyond), while also keep as many girls as possible, regardless of skill level, until they age out.

“Studies have shown that girls involved in youth sports are less likely to engage in risky behavior as they grow up. We designed the program to give every girl the confidence to play and enjoy it.”

“Ax” and his wife are headed south for a warm weather retirement. But every June — as Westport begins another softball title run — he’ll be thinking of the town where for so many years, he made his indelible mark.

(Hat tip: Rob Simmelkjaer)

Compo Beach: 2018 Style

Compo Beach sure looks and feels a lot different this year than last.

If you haven’t noticed, you’re not paying attention.

Or maybe you can’t get in.

A quick recap: This past winter — in response to Westporters’ rising complaints about overcrowded parking, picnic tables and sand — the Parks and Recreation Commission did some rising itself.

They raised the price of season beach stickers for Weston residents, from $250 to $375. They raised it for all other non-residents even more: from $490 to $775.

Daily passes rose too. They’re now $50 on weekdays, $65 on weekends.

Westporters’ prices rose slightly. A season sticker is now $50 ($25 for seniors).

Parks & Rec also instituted caps on sales. They limited non-resident sticker sales to 350 (from the previous 600). And — perhaps most significantly — there is now a daily cap: No more than 100 non-residents are allowed in each day. Signs on nearby roads indicate when the limit has been reached (sometimes as early as noon).

South Compo Road, just before the Minute Man.

Add in newly remodeled bathrooms on both sides of the bathhouses, and extra grills at South Beach; a new entrance pattern and special parking area for non-residents — leaving prime beachfront spots for Westporters — and the difference is palpable.

Many beachgoers love the “new” Compo. They applaud the space they’ve got, the availability of picnic tables and grills, even the lower decibel level.

Compo Beach isn’t always this empty. But it’s a lot less crowded than it used to be.

Others are less pleased.

They wonder about lost revenue. Though Parks & Rec said that increased fees would pay for better maintenance and the full-time cop, it seems from anecdotal evidence and those daily cap signs that the beach is bringing in a lot less money than it used to.

That probably also affects Joey’s by the Shore. It may have contributed to PAL sitting on a few hundred unsold fireworks tickets this year — thousands of dollars that won’t go to programs and kids.

And smaller crowds means less “life” at the beach. There are fewer languages spoken, fewer games played on the grass, fewer opportunities to share our shore with others.

Plenty of people think that’s great. It’s our beach — paid for by our tax dollars.

Others miss the out-of-town regulars they used to see, and worry we’ve only added to our “elitist” image.

What do you think? Do you love the changes, and think they’re long overdue? Do you think they’re too draconian? Are you conflicted?

Click “Comments” below. And — as always — please keep things civil. Play nice in the sand.

As part of its changes, Parks & Rec posted several signs outlining rules at Compo Beach.

On The Meeting Docket — And Off

In November, Westport’s Parks & Recreation Commission unanimously approved construction of a new walkway and bathrooms at South Beach — the no-lifeguard, cookout grill, alcohol-permitted section beloved by picnickers and sunset-watchers.

The walkway will be similar to the one installed 2 years ago, from the pavilion near Joey’s to the cannons. Made of cement, it features wooden railings open to access every 2 cars.

It will connect to the current walkway at the cannons. It continues to the cut-through road near the kayak launch, then joins the gravel marina walkway via a crosswalk.

The current roadway would shift slightly north, to accommodate the new walkway. Several parking spots would be lost.

Plans for the new walkway and bathrooms at South Beach. Click on or hover over to enlarge.

The bathroom — to be built on an unpaved area just south of the pickleball courts — will include an outdoor shower and water fountain. The exterior is white with blue trim, and brick accents.

The projected cost for the walkway is $429,643. The bathroom cost is $257,473.

This Thursday (February 15, 7 p.m., Town Hall), the Planning & Zoning Commission will discuss the proposal. The meeting is open to the public.

One meeting that will not be held is the Saugatuck Transit Oriented Design Master Plan Steering Committee. Their study — funded by a $450,000 state grant — was to be presented at a public session this Monday.

According to RTM member Matthew Mandell, “changes requested from the last meeting were so broad that there was no way to get a new draft in time.”

It’s unclear, Mandell adds, whether the public meeting will be rescheduled — or if there will be public comment at all.

He does not even know if the committee will vote to accept the report — which includes parking decks, new housing units, new retail and office play, but did not include a traffic study.

The state has extended the deadline for the TOD report to be filed. It’s now due in late March.

Parks & Rec Approves Walkway, Bathrooms For South Beach

Last summer’s vexing Compo Beach problems — backups at the main gate, an influx of out-of-towners, packed parking lots — have not yet been solved.

But whether they are or not, visitors next summer may see some important changes on South Beach.

Last night, the Parks & Recreation Commission unanimously approved construction of a new walkway and bathrooms at South Beach — the no-lifeguard, cookout grill, alcohol-permitted section beloved by picnickers and sunset-watchers.

A safe walking path and restrooms have been identified as key needs in surveys and a town charrette, dating back to 2013.

The walkway concept approved last night will be similar to the one installed 2 years ago, from the pavilion near Joey’s to the cannons. Made of cement, it features wooden railings open to access every 2 cars.

It will connect to the current walkway at the cannons. It continues to the cut-through road near the kayak launch, then connects with the gravel marina walkway via a crosswalk.

The current roadway would shift slightly north, to accommodate the new walkway. No parking would be lost. Several parking spots would be lost.

Plans for the new walkway and bathrooms at South Beach. Click on or hover over to enlarge.

The bathroom — to be built on an unpaved area just south of the pickleball courts — will include an outdoor shower and water fountain. The exterior is white with blue trim, and brick accents.

The projected cost for the walkway is $429,643. The bathroom cost is $257,473.

Plans now go to the Conservation Commission, Flood Board, Architectural Review Board and Planning & Zoning Commission. If the Board of Finance and RTM approve funding, the project will be put out to bid.

“Friends Of Compo Beach” Seek Fair Solutions — And Swift Action

It started one Saturday this summer.

Traffic backed up near Compo Beach. Ed and Leslie Gallant waited a while to enter. Once past the gate, they had to hunt for a parking spot.

On the boardwalk, the couple — who moved to Westport in 1978, and enjoyed the beach all those years — noticed a non-stop stream of people. They wondered if a special event they had not heard of was going on.

The next day, Compo was even more crowded. Cars, people — it was crazy.

The line of cars waiting to get into Compo Beach was long this past summer.

They mentioned the situation to their neighbor, Geralyn Breig. She’s been here 20 years — and she too noticed a change.

Breig and her husband own a Hobie Cat. But so many cars parked on the gravel lot where it was stored — while other vehicles blocked the boat ramp — that they could not get their boat in the water.

One of Breig’s sons works at Joey’s. He said the concession stand was packed too.

Nick Sadler is a more recent arrival in town. But he also thought Compo changed this summer. The friends all talked, and wondered what to do.

The Gallants and Breig attended a Parks and Recreation Commission open meeting at Town Hall. Breig read a statement, noting the interrelationship between increased crowds and more trash, messy bathrooms, drunkenness and more.

“All of those things impact the quality of the beach experience, including peace and courtesy,” Breig said. She urged the commission to look at Compo “holistically.”

This was the fireworks crowd. Some weekend days seemed almost as crowded. (Photo/Andrew Colabella)

The meeting grew divisive. The Gallants and Greig were discouraged.

As they talked, they and Sadler devised a plan. “We thought, ‘Let’s focus on goals,'” Breig says. “Let’s find a way to send feedback to the town leaders. They’ve got experts and lawyers. If we communicate our expectations in a friendly but strong way, they should be able to fix the problems.”

The ad hoc group went to work.

On Sunday, September 25, their website — Friends of Compo Beach — went live. Within days, it had thousands of views.

And hundreds of subscribers.

The site has 6 goals:

  • Reduce crowds
  • Fix the traffic problem
  • Ensure parking for residents
  • Enforce rules for public behavior and courtesy
  • Ensure that services like boat ramps are accessible
  • Restore a safe, clean, environmentally sound beach.

There are 3 steps to an “action plan”:

  • Meet with town leaders to raise concerns
  • Provide them with feedback on any of their solutions
  • Organize residents to keep up activity until the situation is fixed.

“People care,” Leslie Gallant says of the near-instant positive reaction to the website.

The goal is for everyone to enjoy Compo –and obey the rules. (Photo/Tom Cook)

While the internet can be a place of tangents, invective and ad hominem attacks, Gallant is pleased that “the vast majority of comments are on point about what we listed.”

Some of those comments came from Weston residents. They pay more for their beach sticker than Westporters, but less than other out-of-towners.

“Weston residents have long been welcome at Compo,” Breig notes. “We’ve never had a crowd problem before, so they’re probably not the issue.” Besides, she adds, “it’s not for us to answer how much they should pay. That’s for Parks & Rec to decide.”

“I feel so sorry for the Parks & Rec people at the front gate,” Gallant says. “There’s such a bottleneck there. They take all the heat. It just shows the strain on all our resources, when the numbers exploded this year.”

“We don’t want to be divisive,” Breig emphasizes. “We want to be constructive. We hope our voices are heard by the powers that be — town officials, Parks & Rec.”

It’s October. The beach opens officially — with Parks & Rec employees checking stickers and collecting fees — 7 months from now.

“We’re looking for fair solutions — and swift action,” Gallant says.

(Click here for the Friends of Compo Beach website.)

Everyone’s favorite beach. (Photo/Dave Dellinger)