Tuesday, January 28, 2014
By James Lomuscio
A bathhouse at South Beach. A miniature golf course. Moving the lifeguard station closer to the water and making it two-story. And a shaded promenade next to Joey’s by the Shore to enhance views of Long Island Sound for those heading into Westport’s Compo Beach.
These were just some of the ideas floated at tonight’s Parks & Recreation Commission where commission members—including new chair Charles Haberstroh—and the public heard an update on a master plan presented by the Compo Beach Site Improvement Committee and architects working on the plan.
“Tonight is the first step in a long journey,” Andy Moss, committee chairman and outgoing Parks & Recreation Commission chair, told about 35 persons who had assembled at Town Hall. “Compo Beach has been a town asset for 100 years. It’s both prized and in need of repair.”
Moss stressed that the designs presented were not proposed designs, but works in progress that required more input.
The designs were presented by Westporter Jim Lothrop, principal of White Plains, N.Y.-based Lothrop Associates, and representatives of AKRF, Inc., environmental, planning and engineering consultants, also of White Plains.
The groups’ initial designs were based on input gleaned from a Nov. 23 community charrette held at the Bedford Middle School.
“This is a point in time in a long design process,” Moss stressed. “The goal is not to get a vote tonight, but to get a sense of direction.”
Top on the list of goals for the committee were improved pedestrian safety, more useable space, better traffic flow and updated facilities.
“There’s a lot to love about this place, but there’s a lot that can be made better,” said Susan Jainchill of AKRF, noting that renovating the existing bathhouse and building a new bathhouse were priorities during the charette.
She also said that while the beach appeals to myriad users, from softball to day camp, boaters and swimmers, “the primary value is in the pedestrian experience,” as individuals walk from one area to another.
Pedestrian walkways that extend from the marina and South Beach all the way around the beach to Soundview Avenue were mentioned.
Lothrop, a town resident since 1967, focused primarily on enhancements to the pavilion, cabana, bathhouse and the Joey’s concession area. He said one idea was to have the old bathhouse next to Joey’s opened up into a shaded promenade area from a parking area to the boardwalk. He even suggested an al fresco dining area for Joey’s.
During a comments session from committee members and the public, Skip Lane, a committee member, said, “My big idea is to move the cars away from the beach,” and to have a berm separating the sand from the roadway.
Eileen Flug, moderator of the Representative Town Meeting (RTM), disagreed, saying, “I think it’s important to have parking along the water,” for people who want to watch sunsets off season, as well as due to safety concerns for children with their parents evenings at the beach.
“I believe the key concern is safety, people walking on the roads,” said Don Bergman, an RTM member.
In his presentation, Lothrop noted that an unutilized section of green space along Compo Beach Road could be made into a walking trail to get people off the road. He also discussed the possibility of having the entry guard booth moved farther into the park to prevent traffic build-ups on Compo Beach Road.
During the meeting, members of the Westport Youth Commission, presented a 206-signature petition that the master plan include a miniature golf course, possibly in an area near a new bathhouse at South Beach.
Committee member George Franciscovich noted that Compo Beach is used year round, and that residents even will use it on the coldest of winter days to jog or walk their dogs.
“It’s not just a beach; it’s a park,” he said.
According to Moss, the master plan for town boards and commissions to vote on should be ready in March, followed by a phased-in implementation, most of it off season.
Posted 01/28/14 at 04:04 AM Permalink