Westport explores building a four season playground
WESTPORT — Despite all of Westport’s amenities, residents are calling for one more: a playground for all seasons.
“We love our town, but we see the need for an in-town playground where children from all neighborhoods can meet and play all four seasons,” Westporter Nathalie Jacob wrote in a petition posted to ipetitions.com that has received 187 signatures since she posted it online last week. The petition has a goal of 500 signatures.
Jacob recently created a Facebook page called “Westport Stay at Home Moms” and often gathers with moms she met through the page for playdates with her toddler-aged daughter.
The group’s moms grew frustrated Westport’s primary playground, at Compo Beach, is not comfortable in all seasons and many of the playgrounds at town schools are not usable during the school year, Jacob said.
“It isn’t shaded and, on a hot day, it isn’t one we can use. If people have friends who don’t live in Westport, those friends can’t get in (to the beach). In the winter it’s freezing because it’s on the beach,” Jacob said, noting Compo is not a central location for many town residents.
The moms often drive 20 minutes to neighboring towns — Norwalk and especially New Canaan’s Mead Park, which is free for everyone, tucked in and shaded by the woods, and enclosed, Jacob said, adding the park provides a meeting space for moms to socialize and build a community that is absent in Westport.
“No sand, shaded and gated,” Jacob simply wrote in the petition about the characteristics she and other moms desire in a new playground. “Ideally we’re looking for something in town, with shade so that toddlers can’t escape, and where the community can enjoy the children playing and each other’s company,” Jacob added.
The playground proposal may not be much of a fight with town officials as many are already on board. “I think it’s a great idea. It’s something we’ve been talking about,” town Parks and Recreation Department Director Jennifer Fava said.
A centrally located playground is missing from town’s parks system, Fava said, adding she was part of discussions to include a downtown playground in the 2015 Downtown Master Plan, which proposes a playground at Jessup Green, the slice of grass in front of the library and along the Saugatuck River.
“What’s laid out in the plan is to put it (the playground) closer to the water and move the parking back a bit so you can really take advantage of the views and the location,” Fava said.
First Selectman Jim Marpe is also a proponent.
“A playground in the downtown area would be beneficial to parents with young children, but also serve as an attraction for more people to come downtown. It might combine a trip with children to the park and to do some shopping as well,” Marpe said.
No timeline is currently in place for the park’s construction, however, Fava said, in part because the Westport Library’s renovation makes it difficult to execute two simultaneous projects. Regardless, Fava said she welcomes the resident feedback and invited Jacob to present the petition at the next Park and Recreation meeting on Jul. 18, which Jacob said she’ll attend.
To view the online petition visit www.ipetitions.com/petition/westport-four-season-playground.
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