The Coalition For Westport has been following the debate over Compo Beach, and CFW members have attended the Compo Beach Site Improvement Committee planning meetings. Since the project is in the planning stage and the committee is actively seeking public comment, now is an excellent opportunity for all to submit opinions and suggestions.
The planning forecast calls for spending at least $6 million, with improvements in three phases. The first phase would cover improvements to the entranceway pavilion and drop-off area, a new restroom pavilion at South Beach, a pedestrian walkway along the parking-lot area of the beach, and redesign of bathhouse and picnic pavilion. This would be followed by bathhouse and pavilion construction and, finally, shoreline stabilization, vehicle circulation and parking enhancements.
There is much that residents can support. Even those who have urged abandonment of the plan begrudgingly list a number of improvements that could be made. The fact is that Compo Beach is one of our town's jewels and is sorely in need of repair. Unlike many of our specialized facilities such as those for golf, tennis and boating, Compo is enjoyed by vast numbers of residents of all ages not only in the summer but all year round. The beach and its facilities have suffered from general neglect and low maintenance resulting from years of insufficient funding. Additionally, the beach has taken beatings as a result of Storms Irene and Sandy. The charrette held earlier this year resulted in a general consensus that improvements and enhancement are necessary.
CFW urges everyone to accentuate the positive aspects of the Compo plan. While there is disagreement over certain elements, parking in particular, and with the amount of money projected to be spent, there is also clear agreement on several items such as improved ingress and egress at the entrance, extending walkways around the Compo area free from vehicular traffic and additional restrooms at South Beach.
CFW believes that a solution to the parking issue can be found that would include a wider barrier between the first row of adjacent parked cars and the beginning of the beach. Cars would not directly block the waterfront but could still have direct line of site to the water and a more attractive and pedestrian-friendly balance would result. We believe strongly that improvements could be made that would not deny any of us what we have grown to prize. We are also convinced that it is not necessary to make this a major capital improvement project requiring vast amounts of money, many years to complete and a major inconvenience to residents.
First Selectman Marpe has stressed that no decisions have been made, and the committee has expressed its interest in your comments. CFW urges everyone to become constructively and actively involved by attending the meetings, examining the Compo website -- compobeach2.com -- and adding your voice. The committee, Compo, and our town will ultimately benefit from hearing your thoughts.
Coalition For Westport