Compo Beach and the ways people use the waterfront park have changed tremendously over the years, and it's high time that the town develops a creative plan that maximizes the benefits of the 29-acre tract, says Andy Moss, chairman of the Compo Beach Site Improvement Committee.

The recently established panel is asking interested architectural and engineering firms to submit bids in response to a "request for proposals" by June 20 outlining proposals for Compo upgrades.

"From the time when the town acquired the beach (to now), the way people utilize beach area has changed. It's time for an update," Moss said. "We're looking for bright, creative, innovative ways to make sure that the space is utilized as well as possible for the people in town." Moss and Parks and Recreation Director Stuart McCarthy said organizing traffic flow and pedestrian movements through the park are paramount to the project.

"On a busy weekend traffic can back up, and there's a lot of pedestrian traffic in the area," Moss said. "I think we can make some improvements there. And then inside the park, I think we can make some improvements from Joey's (concession stand) over to the far end of the beach. There's no boardwalk. You're walking across parking lots."

The project's stated objectives are:

Improve traffic flow at the beach entrance.

Improve pedestrian flow and safety.

Evaluate feasibility of additional rest rooms to serve South Beach area.

Evaluate potential improvements for pedestrian safety along Compo Beach Road and Soundview Drive from Owenoke Park to Hillspoint Road.

Review and recommend landscape improvements, including lawns, trees, ornamental areas and site lighting; and evaluate the location of existing facilities including boat storage, softball field, volleyball courts, basketball courts, skate park and day camp facilities.

Moss expects the proposals to run the gamut.

"Frankly, I'm not sure what to expect. I'm sure we'll see a wide range," Moss said. "So we're trying to find vendors who can both come up with the ideas themselves and manage the process for public feedback."

This is an early stage of the overall master plan process, with firms floating ideas without the constraints of a working budget, McCarthy said.

"One of the advantages of the RFP process is that you get information during this preliminary part of the process that will help us further define the master plan before we get into the full project," McCarthy said. "Instead of pre-determining what the budget is and having (firms) only think within that budget, this allows them to come back with any number of proposals."