Does Pear Tree Point Beach need a huge makeover?

Are only a few, smaller repairs recommended?

Or should no changes be made to the beach at all?

The pendulum continues to swing back and forth as tension in town builds over whether or not Pear Tree Point Beach should undergo major renovations.

DEEP’s approval

At a recent Parks & Recreation Commission meeting, Pear Tree Point Beach Building Committee Co-Chairman Mike Sgroe said DEEP has “no issues” with any of the proposed renovations.

Parks & Recreation Director Pam Gery, Sgroe, and the architects for the project recently traveled to Hartford to visit with the state Department of Energy & Environmental Protection (DEEP).

In response to many residents’ concerns that the beach will eventually be underwater, the analyst said there is no evidence at all that this is the case.

“In fact, there’s evidence that we’re actually picking up sand in certain points of that beach,” Sgroe said.

Adding beach

The committee is considering expanding the size of the beach.

On the back beach, “the concept is to push the beach back into the first row of parking spots,” Sgroe said.

Pushing the beach back would gain 18 feet of beach, he added.

On the south beach, five feet of beach would be gained in this manner as well.

“We are talking about potentially giving up about 31 parking spots,” he said.

Parking spaces

The Pear Tree Point Building Committee is asking for consideration from Darien’s Zoning Board of Appeals to retain the size of the existing parking spaces at the beach.

The town’s regulations on parking space size is 9-feet-by-18-feet. The parking spaces at Pear Tree Point Beach are 8-1/2-feet-by-18-feet.

“The town does not stipulate how many parking spaces should be in a particular park, or at least at the beach,” Sgroe said.

There are a total of 225 parking spaces at the beach. Sgroe said that based upon firsthand observation, he doesn’t feel parking is a problem.

To make that determination, he visited the beach multiple times at different times of the day over the summer, and recorded his findings.

He said on July 4, at 2 p.m. at high tide, there were 45 available open parking spots. In addition, on July 13, at 3:30 p.m., there were 100 available parking spots.

Later on in the afternoon and evening, there were even more available parking spaces on both of those dates.

“To put the town’s mind at ease, I don’t feel that there’s a real issue with lack of parking,” Sgroe said.

In addition, in response to residents’ concerns about being able to see the beach from their cars in the parking lot, Sgroe said they will still be able to, even after the proposed renovations are complete.

Flooding seen in photographs

The flooding that can be seen in photographs that are circulating about Pear Tree Point Beach is due to a broken storm drain, according to Sgroe.

“There is an issue with the storm drain that is adjacent to the curb at the west beach. The storm drain is lacking a check valve,” Sgroe said. “The tide is coming through the storm drain and is dumping water onto the parking lot. That has to be repaired.”

Petition

To date, the petition on the website preservepeartreepointbeach.com that has been circulating around town, which is against most of the renovations, has garnered about 580 signatures.

There are about 60 comments on the petition, which reflect the strong feelings many residents have against the proposed renovations.

Samples of comments are as follows:

 Please stop this insanity ... Pear Tree Point Beach is a beautiful sanctuary and it will be best suited to having improvements to its existing buildings ... period! No two-story structure.

 Shame on the town of Darien. The “public” process has been an exercise in form over substance that would make Putin proud.

 This is a ridiculous plan. Who put this forth? Who approved this? These are our tax dollars. Not Mrs. Stevenson’s team’s Monopoly money.

Next steps

The Pear Tree Point Beach Building Committee plans to speak with FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) in regard to the project.

Watch the full meeting on Darien TV79.

sfox@darientimes.com