Skidding Improvement Plan: “Tweak It. Don’t overdo it.

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Adjust it. Liven it up.

But don’t make major changes.

That’s the strong feeling of a citywide inquiry into Longshore’s future, says the woman overseeing any changes to the 168-acre park.

Jen Fava, director of Westport’s parks and recreation department, reviewed the results and feedback from the spring survey. Administered by landscape architect, planning and engineering firm Stantec as the first step in the longshoring capital improvement plan, it drew 2,658 responses.

Longshore includes a golf course, tennis courts, marina, swimming pools and much more.

“The surprise was that there weren’t a lot of surprises,” Fava says.

“People were like, ‘The skidding is great. We like it.’ They don’t want to change too much. They just want it modified, to suit their needs.

Of course, not all residents have the same needs. One person’s priority for pickleball may conflict with another’s desire for a golf club.

Golfers weighed heavily for a proper clubhouse, complete with pro shop, locker room and grill. The golf course itself will not be redesigned.

Coastal golf course. (Photo/Dave Dellinger)

Platform tennis players want 2 extra courts and a hot tub.

As for pickleball: 1,512 respondents want courts. 962 said no.

As expected, Fava says, survey respondents expressed a strong desire for the pools — and to keep the current location near Long Island Sound.

However, many have asked for more shade there; a terrace and a picnic area and renovated changing rooms.

Coastal Basin (Photo/Pamela Einarsen)

There was also a clear desire for trails, trails and walkways across Longshore. “It matches national trends,” Fava says.

Stantec’s job now is to provide options. Fava calls it “arranging the pieces of the puzzle”. Where, for example, would a golf clubhouse be built: on the site of the current dilapidated pro shop, or elsewhere? Should the current maintenance hangar be moved — right in the heart of the establishment, near the golf course, the tennis court, the inn and the swimming pool parking lot? If yes, where?

The driving range now occupies prime terrain at the confluence of the Saugatuck River and the Long Island Sound. A number of respondents would like this space to be available to more users. If so, what happens to this training center?

The survey asked several questions about parking. Most respondents rated it low on their concerns. “Perhaps we will consider a realignment of spaces or better access routes,” says Fava.

Marina ER Strait from Longshore (Photo/Marcia Falk)

Parks & Rec officials will go to the public this fall for more information. This is followed by a detailed investment plan, with requests for specific elements before the municipal finance and land-use planning commissions.

“We can’t give everything to everyone,” notes Fava.

Going forward, she says she and other officials will keep the main takeaway in mind: “People said, ‘Don’t overdevelop Longshore.’ We will keep its character, while meeting as many needs as possible.

“Longshore has very good bones. We just need to carve around it.

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