Westport to limit daily beach passes to 100
WESTPORT — In what officials hope will be the final piece in bringing the crowds at Compo Beach under control this summer, a new series of access restrictions have been approved.
A new limit of 100 daily parking passes and a decreased number of special events at the beach were measures passed unanimously Wednesday by the Parks and Recreation Commission. The number of special event permits will be determined by the Parks and Recreation Department.
The commission also approved moving the guardhouse deeper into the beach to prevent long vehicle lines entering the beach.
The approvals follow a series of other measures put in place over the past several months, such as a decrease in the number of seasonal beach passes that can be sold to nonresidents.
One of the primary concerns residents had with the beach last summer was traffic leading into the beach parking lot. In an effort to alleviate the backup at the gate, Jennifer Fava, director of the Parks And Recreation Department, recommended a plan to continue selling daily beach parking passes at the main guardhouse. The commission subsequently approved it.
The guardhouse, however, will be moved from its location at the main entrance back 300 feet so as to allow room for 12 to15 more cars to queue, Fava said, adding the current location of the guardhouse only allows room for two cars to queue, while the third car blocks traffic from cars coming into the beach.
Up until this year the number of daily beach passes was “essentially unlimited,” according to Fava.
“We would cut it off when we saw there were about 75 spaces remaining so that those would be available for residents,” she said.
Adding an electronic means for people to buy daily passes will only queue up the line further, Fava said, because people may drive up to the guardhouse expecting they can buy tickets at the entrance, but will be forced to pull up an app and pay via technology.
Commission member Stephen Axthelm approved of the non-tech method for buying tickets and said, “An all-online thing is inherently discriminatory against people for whom technology is not accessible.”
Resident Jay Walshon disagreed with the commission’s conclusion, saying only allowing people to buy passes at the gate will result in more traffic, especially because the commission limited the number of daily parking passes that can be sold to 100 passes, which may lead some people to be turned away and cause traffic.
“You’re still going to back up traffic this way. Let’s say someone comes up from the Bronx, which happened last summer when I was there, and people come all that way to find out the lot is closed or you can’t sell another pass. Do you think that’s fair to them?,” Walshon said, adding he hopes passes can be sold at the parks department office or in town hall during the week to reduce traffic and ensure people will get a pass for their chosen date.
The commission also voted to limit the available dates for event permits to Monday through Thursday, as opposed to Monday through Friday, and start charging an event permit fee.
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