Westport Compo Beach Enforces New Policies Limiting Beach Activities BY Ella bloomingdale '20

Westport Parks and Rec will enforce this year a old lenient policy prohibiting people to toss balls or frisbees on Compo Beach.

According to the Town of Westport Parks & Recreation Rules and Regulations, “No person shall engage in any athletics, games or contest except swimming at any public beach, except in areas designated for that purpose by the Westport Parks and Recreation Department.”

What that means, in practical terms, is that people at the beach cannot do anything resembling any game. In other words, no frisbee, no tossing a football, no wiffle ball. Sports will only be permitted in “areas designated for that purpose.” Volleyball on the volleyball courts will continue, basketball can be played on the basketball courts and skating on the skating ramps. But no casual games.

A group plays spikeball at Compo Beach (Photos by Ella Bloomingdale '20).

“Going to the beach and playing games with my family has been a huge part of Westport summers and memories,” Abby Ragland ’21 said. “I can see that maybe this new rule has to do with safety but I don’t think throwing a ball around with your family or friends is that dangerous.”

There are already rules for health, safety and enjoyment at Compo Beach.

Westport residents are not taking this new regulation very well. A petition -- Let Them Play! … at Compo Beach -- was started by Westport residents, aiming to get 1,000 signatures. The petition argues that “limiting opportunities for physical activity is simply bad public health policy” and that casual sporting activities on the beach can “induce lifelong habits and memories.” After only one week, the petition was just shy of its 1,000 goal, with over 900 signatures by June 5.

According to an article by Dan Woog in his blog 06880, however, the new rules may not be as cut and dry as they seem. In fact, the rules seem to have been in effect for years but are only being enforced now. Parks and Rec Chair Charlie Haberstroh told Woog, “Specifically about throwing a football/frisbee etc. at the beach . . . we have decided to designate at least 2 areas at Compo — tentatively one in front of the volleyball area, and one on the north end of East Beach for throwing footballs, frisbees and the like.” Other changes have also been made to Compo Beach, such as new bathrooms, larger seating area outside Joey’s and new parking slots.

A Westport father and son toss a frisbee on a June afternoon. (Photos by Ella Bloomingdale '20)

It remains to be seen how these new guidelines will affect Westport beach life. Westport residents will make their voices heard and that Parks and Rec will work with the town to reach a solution that satisfies all.

Toys, such as these sold at Joey’s By the Shore, will soon be banned on Compo Beach if the new guidelines go into effect. (Photos by Ella Bloomingdale)

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