‘Reconsider the changes’ — Pear Tree beach neighbors speak out at Parks & Rec meeting
It was standing room only at the Parks & Recreation Commission Special Meeting Wednesday night, Nov. 28, as Tom Aigo — a 40-year Darien resident — said he would “strongly urge” the town to reconsider the changes it’s proposing to Pear Tree Point Beach Park.
“I believe that any steps taken to rehabilitate and upgrade the facilities in the park should be fashioned as such so they don’t destroy or mar the unique characteristics of this beautiful place,” Aigo said.
The purpose of the Parks & Rec. Special Meeting was for community members to express their opinions about the Pear Tree Point Beach Park improvement project.
At a recent Pear Tree Point Beach Building Committee meeting, residents — especially those who live in the neighborhood of the beach — spoke out in protest of many of the proposed upgrades.
The upgrades include improving curbs, ramps, and parking stalls, as well as correcting drainage issues in the parking lot. The upgrades were part of last year’s comprehensive master plan put forward by Parks & Rec.
The Request for Proposals for professional design services for the project has just been approved.
About a dozen residents took turns coming up to the podium to voice strong concern — and even anger — over the proposed upgrades.
While Aigo was speaking, he referred to the Pear Tree Committee’s discussion of upgrading, expanding or replacing the existing concession.
“It will likely require structures that are substantially higher than the existing ones and in my view, would significantly impair the attractive natural character of the site,” Aigo said.
He said what’s “really important” to the people of the town is to “enjoy the space throughout the year.”
“Consider a more measured approach to rehabilitating the park, consistent with the primary goal of preserving the beauty of the place,” he added.
Jim Errington, who also spoke at the most recent Pear Tree Point Committee meeting, questioned why the town chose Pear Tree Beach to upgrade in the first place.
He said Darien’s other beach — Weed Beach — is “three times the size” of Pear Tree, “seems to have less flooding issues, and has a choice of two beaches to put the concession space.”
However, Errington said the “biggest problem” is what he referred to as a parking lot drainage issue.
Pear Tree Point Beach is in a flood zone and the parking lot often floods during full moons and storms.
“Pear Tree Point Beach parking lot does not have a drainage issue,” Errington said. “It has a sea level rise issue.”
He said the flooding issue at Pear Tree has gotten worse over the years.
“Twenty-five years ago, there was occasional flooding, usually associated with storms,” Errington said. “We don’t need storms to get the flooding any longer. It’s starting to creep away from the beach and into Pear Tree Point Road, and it’s happening a lot and the intensity is increasing.”
Errington strongly advised committee members not to do anything to make the existing situation worse.
He further said not to construct “hard structures” such as concession stands and elevated buildings along the edge of the water.
The RFP is a “terrible waste of the town’s money,” Errington added.
“We don't have the money. It’s going to spoil the nature of the beach, and it will do nothing to mitigate the biggest risks we face, which is flooding and the eventual loss of the beach,” he said.
Ed Nay, another person who spoke at the meeting, said to “be careful what you wish for.”
“Be careful where it’s going to go. There is always a domino effect,” Nay said. “There are a lot more negatives than positives.”
The Parks and Rec. Commission will be going over the points that were brought up at its Special Meeting.
For more information on the Pear Tree Point Beach Building Committee, including the RFP, click here.