Post Road East hideout: Renegade beach stand spotted in Westport
Published 1:09 pm, Wednesday, December 11, 2013
The man working at Rogers Septic Tanks on Post Road East was reluctant to talk about the weather-beaten blue building sitting in his back lot for weeks, hidden from public view.
"It's supposed to be leaving today," the man, who declined to give his name, said Tuesday morning. In fact, he added, the shack was supposed to have been removed from his property two weeks ago. "It's been here too long already," he added.
The man said he was just helping out the shack's owner by allowing what for decades had been the concession stand on Southport Beach in Fairfield to take refuge on his property, a gesture he said he now regrets. "That's the last time I do a favor for anybody," the man grumbled.
The wooden stand, which was washed from its site by the surge from Superstorm Sandy in October 2012, has been at the center of a months-long odyssey -- plagued by controversy -- as its owner and previous concession-holder, Hunter King, has tried to find a spot to deposit it while he hopes to work out a deal with Fairfield officials to bring the shack back to Southport Beach.
Fairfield officials, however, have said flatly that will not happen, and earlier in the year threatened to demolish the structure if King did not remove it from the beach. Since then, King has hauled the shack to several sites in both Westport and Fairfield -- including a Beachside Avenue yard, Burying Hill Beach, a commuter parking lot on the Sherwood Island Connector and the Ukrainian Club parking lot in Fairfield. Each time, however, King was forced to move the shack, after provoking complaints and threats of official action over his failure to secure permission or the needed permits.
On Tuesday, King said he plans to move the shack yet again -- this time, to a friend's property -- but could not specify when.
"We are still working out the details," he said.
The Fairfield Parks and Recreation Commission has decided it will contract with food trucks at both Southport and Sasco beaches next season instead of restoring storm-damaged concession buildings.
But King purchased the stand from the town for $450, and had hoped to repair it sufficiently to comply with Federal Emergency Management Agency regulations for temporary buildings, and then use it as a mobile concession at Southport Beach.
But when the town issued a demolition order for the shack in June, the odyssey in search of a permanent home for the beach stand was launched.
The shack, hauled away from the beach on a flatbed trailer, first landed in a friend's yard on Beachside Avenue, but when zoning officials looked askance, King moved the stand and left it, without permission, in the parking lot of Burying Hill Beach. Police Capt. Sam Arciola called the stand "a hazard" there, and again the shack was on the move.
Then, it headed down to a commuter parking lot on the Sherwood Island Connector, but King was told by the state Department of Transportation that it had to go.
He then trundled it around the corner to Nyala Farms Road, where it sat over an October weekend.
Next, it was hauled back into Fairfield and left in the parking lot of the Ukrainian Club off Kings Drive, where it could be seen by motorists driving along the Post Road. Club officials, however, had not given King permission to use the lot.
Once it was moved from there, the shack's whereabouts remained unknown.
Until this week.
King said he grew up in the neighborhood near Rogers Septic Tanks. "He wanted it here because he could hide it," said the man at Rogers. "No one was supposed to find out it was here."