Compo walkway, upgraded basketball courts get final OK from RTM
Just in time for summer, Westporters will be able to enjoy a new walkway and upgraded basketball courts at Compo Beach.
The RTM unanimously voted to appropriate $185,000 for Phase I of the Compo Beach Master Plan, expected to be completed in May.
The 8-foot-wide concrete walkway, costing $97,000, will run from the bath house to the beachfront cannons; the path will run over an area now occupied by beachside vertical parking spaces, which will be moved 8 feet back.
Two basketball courts will be scaled to regulation size, painted and repaved. The hoops will be made adjustable for all ages of play and LED lights will be installed — a cost of $88,000.
First Selectman Jim Marpe said the changes will provide needed maintenance and still manages to "retain that town beach feel we love."
Catherine Calise, RTM 2, was concerned about the appearance of the beach after the walkway is built. "Aesthetically it’s going to be different because when you look out to the beach instead of just seeing park and sand, you’re going to be seeing a walkway, which will be flush with sand, and split-rail fencing like you do in South Beach," Calise said.
She did acknowledge that the walkway would be well-used and be especially useful for people with disabilities. However, she said she hopes this doesn’t lead to a state of perpetual development making Compo appear as "a Long Island-style beach where it looks more like a park than a beach."
The small scope of the project was lauded by Board of Finance Vice Chairman Michael Rea at that panel’s Jan. 6 meeting, "I’ve raised my kids on that beach, it’s nice to see that common sense has landed. I applaud the minimalistic approach to this," he said.
Jennifer Fava, parks and recreation director, honed in on the project as one that could be completed quickly at relatively low cost. "Two of the items we thought we could handle in house by becoming a client of the Department of Public Works is that we can do something as part of our maintenance and also address the needs that really needed to be addressed," she said.
Fava also added that the department did due diligence with regard to price as some cost estimates were much higher than the $185,000 requested.
Director of Public Works Steve Edwards said there will be no parking lost on the beach and the sidewalk and cars will be separated by a rail system currently in place on South Beach, which he said "has been effective over there."
"Each car will be able to access the beach without any real inconvenience," Edwards said. "Hopefully, we will have it ready for the beginning of May."