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Saturday, November 23, 2013

Planners Get Public Input for Compo Improvements

By James Lomuscio

The suggestions to improve Compo Beach were as varied as the scores of Westporters gathered today at the Bedford Middle School (BMS) for a “charrette,” a collaborative work session with designers and architects.

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Some of the “Nice to Have” suggestions at today’s Compo Beach master plan session were very practical. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) WestportNow.com photo

Among the “must have” and “nice to have” suggestions those in attendance wrote down and posted on boards were: better restrooms, warm outdoor showers, better food options, more shade trees, a South Beach pavilion, even creating dunes with beach grass and sea spray rose plants, like those found on Cape Cod.

Dogs, geese and their droppings headed the list of things people wanted to see removed from the beach, as did, to the consternation of some, getting rid of the baseball and skate parks to garner more parking.

The charrette was conducted for the Compo Beach Site Improvement Committee by the architectural firm Lothrop Associates, Inc. and AKRF, Inc., environmental, planning and engineering consultants. Both groups are based in White Plains, N.Y.

First Selectman Jim Marpe called the charrette “the first public step in what is really an important process” to improve the beach, “our crown jewel.”

“So many people love Compo Beach,” Marpe said, noting that residents use it for different reasons.

The design teams, chosen by the committee, plan to take all of today’s suggestions and synthesize them into a master plan for Compo Beach improvements aimed at improving traffic flow, parking, pedestrian safety and overall user comfort.

“All ideas are welcome,” said Andy Moss, who heads the committee. “Treat it like a blank sheet of paper. Nothing is off the table.”

“We want to see what works and what doesn’t and what new features you want,” said Ashley ley, AKRF planner. “All that will affect the direction of design. We are open to your criticism.”

After participants at different tables posted their ideas, they received four preliminary maps detailing changes at the beach. They included: reworking the beach entrance, relocating parking lots, moving the ball field closer to the pavilion and eliminating the Soundview parking lot to create a treed green area.

“The purpose of this is for you to build your own beach,” said George Franciscovich, a committee member who served as a facilitator at one of the tables.

“This is the Gold Coast,” resident Sandy Wilmot responded. “This beach should be pristine. It should be prime.”

Later, a spokesperson for each table presented their group’s view. Eileen Lavigne Flug, moderator of the Representative Town meeting, spoke for her table, echoing what another group stated.

“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” she said, noting that some minor changes, such as putting restrooms and a small restaurant at South Beach, would suffice, along with the addition of more trees and perhaps a bike path between the ball field and the existing road.

The planners say they will now sift through all of the comments and postings to develop a plan that exemplifies the public’s needs and wishes.

In addressing the crowd at the start of the meeting, Marpe, who previously had served as the acting chairman of the Board of Education, noted that the BMS is a Blue Ribbon school.

“And we want to make sure Compo Beach is Blue Ribbon worthy, too,” he said.

Franciscovich said that the designers should have a plan in place by spring.

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Posted 11/23/13 at 05:31 PM  Permalink



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