Summer doesn't officially begin until June 21. But in Westport, the summer season begins May 1, the day the beaches open. But before the season begins, the beaches undergo a makeover of sorts, said Stuart McCarthy, director of Parks and Recreation.
"Last week at Compo [Beach], people saw big bulldozers. Those were being used to regrade the entire beach," McCarthy said. During this process, sand is evenly redistributed along the beach. This is the most important step in prepping the beaches, McCarthy said. During the winter, the sand gets moved around, leaving the beach uneven. At Compo, for example, winds and tides move the sand from the south end to the north. In the regrading process, the bulldozers move the sand from the north end to the south, McCarthy said.
Westport-based Kowalsky Brothers Inc. General Contractors is contracted to regrade all of the town's beaches, McCarthy said. Regrading at Compo was completed last week during April vacation. This week, Burying Hill and Old Mill beaches will be done.
Once the beaches are regraded, they are cleaned with a beach-cleaner, a machine pulled by a tractor. Similar to a giant sifter, this machine picks up debris from the sand, McCarthy said.
"This process is continued throughout the summer about one to three times a week," he said. "This variable exists depending on the type of tides and storms we see. From a budget standpoint, we can only afford to clean the beaches once a week, but will go out for additional cleanup if we get heavy storms."
Beyond making the sand barefoot friendly, McCarthy said the athletic fields at Compo will also get a regular spring cleanup, as will all the athletic fields in town. Also, all of the barbeque grills on the picnic area of Compo were refurbished during the winter.
Are you ready for summer? Which is your favorite town beach? Please leave a comment below!
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