The Representative Town Meeting on Tuesday night approved a request from the Parks and Recreation Department for $50,000 to conduct a master plan for the renovation of Compo Beach.

"We all know how important Compo is to town and as an asset to town," Parks and Recreation Commission Chairman Andy Moss told the legislative body.

The 29-acre tract has not been the subject of a significant recent study, and hiring a design firm to study its use, potential, traffic patterns and trouble spots will help maximize an important town asset, he said.

Lothrop & Associates, a White Plains, N.Y.-based engineering company selected by the Compo Beach Site Improvement Committee, will conduct the study to help the town chart the future of its major shoreline recreational area. Public feedback will be crucial throughout the study period, which should last four to six months, Moss said.

Plans to improve Compo Beach over the long term had won strong support from the RTM's Parks & Recreation and Planning & Zoning committees last week, which recommended the full legislative body approve the master plan funding.

"I don't have to tell you folks the significance of Compo Beach in the community," Parks and Recreation Director Stuart McCarthy told the joint committee meeting. "The Parks Commission has made this a priority."

The only proviso relates to rebuilding the Compo bathhouse, which at least two committee members said should be part of the plan.

"Stuart, I'm going to ask you what would it cost to add the bathhouse to this project," said member Jack Klinge. "If I think it's appropriate, I'm going to make an amendment to add that amount to this study."

McCarthy emphasized, however, that decisions relating to the design of the bathhouse could change, depending on the overall direction recommended by the plan for the future of Compo Beach.

"We had actually issued a separate RFP back in March for repair and renovation of the building," he said, but found there were larger issues that need to be addressed. "During that discussion it became clear that the master plan ought to come first."

McCarthy also emphasized that extensive public comments would be sought on the beach plan.

"This is not something where the five people on the committee are going to decide what Compo Beach looks like for the next 30 years," he said.

Lothrop & Associates "will gather the community in and sort of put out a blank sheet of paper ... and then synthesize all those ideas into their thinking" about Compo and what needs to be done to ensure its future uses, McCarthy said.

He said Lothrop began conducting traffic counts at Compo Beach several weeks ago.

"They are going to be collecting and evaluating existing information," he said. "They'll work with us in further developing the scope of the project. As they put their professional eye toward it, we'll make the determination if the project gets bigger or more defined as it moves forward."

McCarthy said part of the work at this point will involve "an assessment inventory and evaluation of the current assets down there," such as the playground, which he said is relatively new, and the basketball courts, which he said should likely be replaced.

Correspondent Jarret Liotta contributed to this report.