Tag Archives: Westport Parks & Recreation

COVID Roundup: Tennis, Golf, Fields News; Traffic Returns; Mexica Moves In; More

There’s plenty of good recreation news!

The tennis courts at Town Farm (North Compo Road) and Doubleday (behind Saugatuck Elementary School) open next Friday (June 5). Play is limited to singles, on only those courts with nets. For all tennis court rules and regulations, click here.

Beginning Monday (June 1), single rider and pull golf carts will be available at Longshore, through the 2 p.m. tee time. That ensures enough time for proper sanitation. Carts are limited, and available while supplies last. 

As of Friday (June 5), Longshore tee times begin at 7 a.m. on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. They remain at 8 a.m. Mondays through Thursdays. Play is extended daily; the last tee time is 7 p.m.

And — to the delight of young athletes throughout town, and runners of all ages — fields at Wakeman, Staples High School (including the outdoor track) and Kings Highway Elementary School open for individual use and exercise on Monday (June 1).

No organized, competitive, pick-up team play, practices or games are allowed.  Groups can include no more than 5 people, and social distancing must be followed. Non-compliance may result in field closures, Parks & Recreation officials say.

NOTE: Jinny Parker (field hockey) Field at Staples, and PJ Romano Field at Saugatuck Elementary will be closed for the summer, due to construction.

Wakeman athletic fields

Every day you seen, sense and feel it: More and more activity, all around town.

Including traffic.

This was the scene yesterday on Wilton Road. A long line at the Post Road light — it’s almost a welcome sight!

(Photo/David Waldman)

It takes a lot of cojones to open a new restaurant in the midst of a pandemic

But that’s what the owners of Mexica are doing. The new spot — with similar cuisine — replaces Señor Salsa in the small Post Road West shopping center by Sylvan Lane.

Who doesn’t need a shot of tequila right now?!

(Photo/Cindy Mindell)

You know all those bottles and can you’ve been collecting since the coronavirus hit, and Stop & Shop closed their return center?

Bring ’em back. The doors are open once again.

Except 7 to 7:30 a.m., and 2 to 2:30 p.m. The room is closed then, for cleaning.

JL Rocks started at Bungalow. Now the luxury jeweler and home emporium are separate stores. But owners Jamie Camche and Wende Cohen still collaborate.

They’ve survived the Great Recession — and now, a retail apocalypse — by offering great quality, exemplary customer service, and a unique aesthetic.

Safe 1-on-1 appointments, FaceTime consultations, curbside pick-ups and shipping have kept their many loyal customers delighted.

Jamie and Wende are working together on a new project: the “City of Lights” collection. They created a series of slim, stackable rings, each highlighted with a stunning diamond. Available in 14K yellow, white and rose gold, the 5 rings are inspired by Parisian landmarks: the Arc de Triomphe, Louvre, Eiffel Tower, Palace of Versailles and Notre Dame.

So what if the coronavirus has canceled your European trip? It’s a lot less expensive to buy a beautiful ring. You’ll have it forever. And you’re helping 2 wonderful women, whose 2 stores — and close partnership — has brought joy to so many Westporters.

(The rings are available online at JL Rocks, and at Bungalow in Sconset Square.)

Jamie Camche and Wende Cohen .(Photo/Jen Goldberg for Private Portraits)

And finally … when Paul Simon wrote “America” in 1966, our nation was in the midst of convulsive change. Half a century later — battered by a pandemic, polarized by beliefs, ripped apart by race and class and so many other divisions — we’re still empty and aching. And we don’t know why.

Longshore Golf Course Opening Set

Today is not exactly golf weather.

But Parks & Rec announced moments ago that the Longshore golf course will open April 10 — weather permitting.

Golfers will see 2 new faces: head pro Jon Janik and course superintendent Todd Salamone.

Both have scrambled to get the greens, bunkers and pro shop ready. They were appointed less than a month ago.

Also new: the golf course website (www.longshoregolfcourse.com) and pro shop phone number (203-221-0900).

Other numbers remain the same: automated tee times (203-341-1833) and day-of-play tee times (203-226-9785).

Westport residents can purchase or renew a golf handpass by clicking here, or in person at the Parks & Rec Longshore office, weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.


The Longshore golf course reopens soon.


Longshore Tree Removal: Too Much? Too Soon?

Today — the 1st day of winter — the weather is hardly “frightful.” In fact, it’s fantastic.

Plenty of people flocked to Longshore on this beautiful solstice. As they jogged or biked, they noticed that 14 trees lining the entrance are tagged for removal.

According to a notice from the tree warden — dated December 19 — the trees will be taken down within 10 days, unless the public appeals to stop the process.

The notices give Westporters 10 days to contact the tree warden.

The notices give Westporters 10 days to contact the tree warden.

Westporters seem surprised.

They shouldn’t be.

On September 19, I posted a story about this. Called “New Life For Old Trees,” it read:

The trees lining the entrance to Longshore are handsome and stately.

They’re also old. And dangerous.

The Parks and Recreation Department, with the consent of the tree warden, has identified approximately 15 trees that are the last of the originals along the entry road. They’re identified by their poor shape, and the condition of their crowns.

These trees have reached — or will soon — the end of their useful lives. The crowns are sparse and misshaped, as a result of deterioration and falling dead wood over many years. Large branches have fallen — threatening golfers, drivers, bicyclists and joggers — and the trees themselves may topple in high winds.

Trees tagged for removal today.

Trees tagged for removal today.

Nearly 20 years ago, Parks and Rec realized what was coming “down the road.” They planted a new strand of trees, further back along both sides of the entrance. Now mature, they create a visual row of trunks and shade. When the 15 oldest trees — which also crowd and shade the new trees — are cut, the new ones will benefit.

Parks and Rec — and the Westport Tree Board – understand the love many Westporters have for trees. (Until they fall on your property.) Thanks to the new trees, there will be no real visual impact after removal.

And the department and board hope the old trees will have a 2nd life.

I asked “06880” readers to suggest new ideas for the old trees. Only 6 readers responded.

Whether it was the beginning of a new school year, the start of autumn or whatever, I don’t know. But the story did not stir the reaction I thought it would.

Now the removal of the trees is becoming reality. A number of readers have emailed me about it. RTM chair Eileen Flug received 2 calls in the past 15 minutes.

A summer view of the Longshore entrance road.

A summer view of the Longshore entrance road.

Earlier this morning, “06880” reader Marcia Falk wrote “06880”:

I have not seen any article about this decision posted by the town or in the local news.

These trees significantly enhance the beauty of Longshore Park. They are irreplaceable in the short term.  All of us know the havoc and damage which the severe storms have wrought upon our local environment, and it is possible that the decision to remove these trees is justified.  However, before such a dramatic and irretrievable act is completed,  the public should be given full disclosure as to reasons behind the warden’s decision.

Longshore Park is one of Westport’s most important,  beautiful, and adored environmental resources. Anything that is done on such a major scale should be publicly announced and explained.  Most local people are so busy that they have no time to visit the park and are unaware of the situation and the threat to the park.

The removal of these trees will drastically alter the landscape of Longshore Park.  Before these trees are removed I believe it is the responsibility of the town to explain why they ALL have to removed, and if so, what are the plans to replant for the future?

Larry Silver loves photographing the Longshore entry drive. This photo is from 1979.

Larry Silver loves photographing the Longshore entry drive. This photo is from 1979.

I sent Marcia a link to my September 19 story. She replied:

If all these trees are in the poor condition their removal makes sense.  However, I seriously doubt that ALL the trees have to come down at once and there is no immediate emergency.

Furthermore, it is not only unreasonable, but bordering on deceptive, that the tree warden announces his decision during the major holiday week.  Although the warden may be abiding by the law, he is not  fulfilling the purpose of the law enabling citizens the right to be informed within a timely manner.  By posting this at the height of the Christmas holiday,  it appears that the tree warden wishes to avoid input from the residents who love the park.  This is not the way a public employee who is hired to serve the needs of the town should treat our citizens.

We should insist that the removal of the tree posting be withdrawn and re-released on January 2nd for the benefit of community disclosure.

There it stands.

Whether the trees also remain standing — well, that remains to be seen.

Youth Sports Leagues Team Up To Win

Over 6,000 Westport kids play sports. Many do more than one. And — as every parent knows — many sports are now played in more than one season.

It’s a grand slam of opportunities — and a grand problem for kids (multiple demands), parents (conflicting schedules) and administrators (not a lot of fields).

Westport’s Parks & Rec Department is trying to bring some order to the pileup.

As de facto coordinator of youth sports in town — it oversees most facilities, and runs several programs itself — Parks & Rec has organized a Westport Youth Sports Council.

Members include every major organization in town: Little League baseball and softball; PAL (lacrosse, football, track, wrestling, basketball, cheerleading); the Westport Soccer Association, and Westport Field Hockey. They meet several times a year.

The goal, says Parks & Rec program manager and Council director Karen Puskas, is for every group to be “on the same page.” In the same ballpark, if you will.

Thousands of Westport youngsters play on hundreds of teams, in a wide variety of sports.

Soon after the holidays, they’ll roll out a new website. It will offer a master schedule; links to every program; a code of conduct; concussion awareness, and information for current residents, as well as anyone with sports-loving kids considering a move to Westport.

This spring, the council plans an open house. Every organization can showcase its program.

Also in the works: informational sessions for parents about college athletics, and townwide forums on topics like specialization and burnout.

“It’s a work in progress,” Puskas admits. “We’re all busy, and everyone is a volunteer. It will only be successful if everyone works together.”

But, she notes, 2 years ago Westport won a National Alliance for Youth Sports award for its comprehensive programs. This council builds on that cooperation.

Westport’s sports organizations are filled with “great people,” Puskas says. “For everyone, it’s all about the kids.”

(If your browser does not connect you directly to YouTube, click here.)


A Compo Charrette

Westporters love to complain about Westport. We’re not happy if we’re not bitching about some aspect of life here. Traffic, teardowns, taxes — it’s all fair game.

Whatever we say, we always wonder why “no one ever listens.”

Now it’s time to put up or shut up. And the topic is something nearly every Westporter feels passionately about: Compo Beach.

The spiritual heart of Westport has many stakeholders. Swimmers, joggers, boaters (with or without slips), human walkers, dog walkers, softball players, playground goers, neighbors, picnickers, bicyclists, summer campers, basketball players, barbecuers, skateboarders — everyone feels passionately about his or her favorite part of the beach.

Somehow, Compo manages to serve them all. But it gets harder every year.

Compo Beach is both timeless and ever-changing. Much is now different from this early 20th-century scene -- but plenty is not.

Compo Beach is both timeless and ever-changing. Much is now different from this early 20th-century scene — but plenty is not.

As part of its much-needed, long-awaited Compo Beach Master Plan, Parks & Rec is hosting a public meeting. But — like the beach itself — this one is special.

From 9 a.m. to noon this Saturday (November 23) at Bedford Middle School, Westporters are invited to a “charrette.” That’s a collaborative work session — including breakout sessions — at which community members, planners, landscape designers, architects and anyone else interested can craft solutions to a design challenge.

The challenges facing Compo’s master planners are many. How can traffic patterns be reconfigured to account for everything from more and wider strollers (the baby kind) and larger vehicles, to our increasing desire to park as close to our destination as possible?

Do the sports facilities still serve the needs of beachgoers? What should we do about the ancient lockers — beloved by some, an eyesore to others? Can we extend the boardwalk? Should all that land on South Beach stay open, or is it underutilized? Do some parts of the beach favor some groups, and shut out others? Why not move the cannons? (Just kidding about the last one.)

All are welcome at this important charrette. Pre-registration is not required. For more information — including a project summary — click here.

Welcome To Compo!

For the past couple of years, it was the elephant in the room.

Finally, people are talking about it.  Over the past week or so, at least a dozen people have mentioned it to me.  Some asked me to comment on “06880.”

The subject:  non-Westporters at the beach.

Okay.  To be perfectly honest:  the increase in New Yorkers and New Jerseyans at Compo.

Particularly those with foreign accents.

I first noticed the phenomenon 2 or 3 years ago.  Nearly every day, cars with out-of-state plates would park at South Beach — the part closest to the cannons.  What looked like several extended families stayed all day, playing and swimming and cooking out.

They seemed to be Russian — Ukrainian perhaps, or maybe Georgian — and they were there on weekdays as well as weekends.  They were there when the weather was gorgeous, and when it was not.

A group commandeered the grassy median between the South Beach parking lot and the sand.  They sat under the shade trees, enjoying themselves.  They too were there almost all the time, usually late in the day.

This summer, I — and many others — have seen more groups coming to Compo.  There are the soccer players — all men, of all ages — on the grass near the softball diamond, and closer to Compo Beach Road.

There’s a group that plays dominoes in the pavilion by the volleyball courts, and spreads out on the beach nearby.

Others find other spots.  Some set up tents or canopies.  The groups are big.  They speak a variety of languages.

I like it.

Whose beach is it, anyway?

Their presence — and activity — adds flavor and energy to the white, suburban scene I’ve grown accustomed to.  There’s enough room for everyone, and the out-of-towners certainly enjoy themselves.  Otherwise, they wouldn’t be back.

I’m sure they’re good for business at Joey’s.

And, at $20 a car — $40 on weekends  — the revenues certainly add to town coffers.  I can’t imagine the added cleanup costs aren’t covered by parking fees.

But I know I’m in (ahem) a minority.

I’ve heard complaints about “out-of-towners” taking over our beach.  (And no, this does not refer to folks from Wilton and Ridgefield.)

I’ve heard questions about why “they” don’t go to Sherwood Island.

I’ve heard criticism of “loud music,” large groups, big tents and garbage.  (You want garbage?  Take a stroll through the brick pavilion any weekend afternoon — or walk along Soundview after the fireworks.)

And yes, I’ve heard dismissive comments about “all the different languages” spoken at the beach these days.

I’m glad our beach is not exclusive.  I’m glad “out-of-towners” find Compo attractive enough to keep coming back.  I’m glad we’re collecting entrance fees at the gate.

As I said, I know my position is not shared by many Westporters.  I’ve heard enough tsk-tsking to realize the “Welcome” mats we place on our doorsteps don’t always extend to our shore.

Comments, as always, are welcome.