Voices that oppose beach project are being silenced

To the Editor:

I am strongly opposed to the proposed plans for Pear Tree Point Beach. I am not a neighbor of this beach and the proposed restructure/rebuild plan is not looked upon favorably by residents town wide. I also did not know anyone on these committees prior to the last two meetings that I attended. I moved to Darien (1965) as a teenager and still reside here now as a senior citizen. Pear Tree has always been my beach of choice.

Most disturbing is the fact that the voices of Darien’s residents in opposition to the plan are silenced. It seems that anyone not in favor of the proposed plan is a nuisance to the Parks and Recreation Department and town government. It is a shame that so few make long lasting decisions for so many.

The editorial in the Darien Times was correct in the use of the word “compromise.” Updates and repairs are needed but the proposed plan is unacceptable. Pear Tree needs to remain the simple, serene beach that it is.

Preserve Pear Tree Point.

Bette Hartmayer

Darien

Having more money means you sometimes spend it stupidly

To the Editor:

A problem with having more money than God is that you spend unnecessarily and many times stupidly. For example consider Darien’s Parks and Recreation Commission’s proposal to build a $3 million elevated structure on Pear Tree Point Beach — a beach which normally floods over completely with waves in the parking lot four times a year just because the snack bar kitchen needs freshening up.

This proposed building would replace the flood prone lower level snack bar with a second story one accessible by stairs and elevator and with a wire fenced in deck from which an unattended beach going child can order a hot dog and enjoy the magnificent elevated view.

Vincent Arguimbau

Darien

RTM District #2 member

Pear Tree Point Beach project process entirely backward

To the Editor:

The town issued a 2.5 million dollar cost estimate for the building work at Pear Tree Point Beach. The building they are proposing to construct will be supported by pilings driven into a high wave action,15-foot FEMA flood zone located on a sandbar. If a private individual or company were involved their FIRST action would be to hire a coastal engineer to survey the site and investigate soil conditions to see how deep the pilings need to be driven.

The building committee did neither. The process has been entirely backward with a predetermined focus on building an elevated event space and not doing the necessary preliminary work on site conditions. Over 15 months into their deliberations they have yet to authorize a test boring. Why is this important? Ask the Darien Boat Club who spent $300,000 after Sandy to replace their pilings which supported a much more modest deck than the proposed building.

They want to steepen the boat ramp. Could it be that the angle is shallow because it is located on a hard rock shelf? Did they check? Are they confidently publishing cost estimates without doing the homework?

In their attempt to ram through this project as quickly as possible in the teeth of massive public opposition basic due diligence hasn’t been done. How much confidence can be placed in their costing or their competence ?

Jim Errington

Darien

Leave Pear Tree Point Beach alone

To the Editor:

My husband and myself and our friends have been enjoying Friday nights during the summer for many years at Pear Tree. It’s so nice to be able to pull right up to the sand and unload our gear. We all bring our own food. So we don’t even need a concession stand. And everyone we see there also bring their own food. Leave Pear Tree Beach alone! If you want a fancier beach go to Weed.

Allan and Sharon Bixler

Darien

Scale of Pear Tree Point Beach project is a travesty

The following letter was written to Pear Tree Point Beach Chairman Mike Sgroe.

To the Editor:

I attended the Pear Tree Beach redevelopment meeting last night. I was unaware there was a meeting, even though I looked on the P&R website. The meeting was not listed. I was in Town Hall for the Candidates forum.

I fully appreciate the enormous amount of effort that has been put into the current proposal for Pear Tree Beach. I also appreciate your desire to let the process run its course and your belief that by running through the process the plan will be refined to a result that will reflect the entire Town’s wishes. I know enormous amounts of volunteer time and effort have gone into this project.

While I laud the well-intentioned efforts of so many, I believe strongly that the scale of the current project iteration is a travesty. Pear Tree is a small, low-key recreational facility that offers a meditative and serene retreat for residents. Weed beach is the built up, active facility. If a two-story, double-sized structure is put in at Pear Tree, it will completely ruin the quiet, reflective aspect of this gem of a park. It is my strong belief that we should simply renovate the existing building within the FEMA regulations.

Before she died last year, I frequently took my handicapped Mother to Pear Tree to sit and watch the waves in her wheelchair. I can assure you that those who cannot put their toes in the sand can most certainly enjoy the current configuration of the park.

Please reconsider the magnitude of this project; protect this quiet gem.

Lucia Zachowski

Darien

Parks & Rec needs to stop rationalizing the Pear Tree Point Beach project

To the Editor:

Ms. Daly’s letter of October 24

asserts that the development plans for Pear Tree Point Beach have incorporated public comment. I guess if you are on a commission your comments count as public. Almost all of those changes have come from members of the PTPBBC, appointed expressly to build a building.

Not one change she refers to has come from “public comment.” The bulk of public comments made in public meetings, letters to this paper and its Facebook survey, the over 700 comments against the project on perservepeartreepointbeach.com are in opposition to the 1) over $2.5 million cost of the development, 2) its environmental irresponsibility, 3) how it changes the very nature of the park, and/or 4) the fact that it has a second story with a commercial kitchen and marine-hardened elevator that will be heated and rented out all year. It would be nice if town authorities took any of this into consideration, but they really seem to want this building.

I note her reference to the increasing and more frequent flooding of the park as a “drainage” issue. The town has done no study on the flooding. Independent studies show that the flooding will only get worse. The project model shows it at extreme low tide. Wonder why that is?

Ms. Daly’s assertions about the “clarifications” by the town on usage of the commercial space are disingenuous. Those rules are not ordinances and can be changed at any time by Parks & Rec.

Important parts of the plan have not been revealed. What is the lighting plan for the night-tome rental operation? Where will the new trash dumpsters be located? Where will the used cooking oil be stored? These little add-ons have not even been discussed.

I would ask that P&R stop rationalizing this project and start listening to the townspeople. I am sending this letter to the RTM—hopefully they will. We want the beach restored at a reasonable budget, not commercialized at excessive financial and environmental costs.

H P Boyle

Darien

Pear Tree Point Beach doesn’t need to be transformed, it just needs some repairs

To the Editor:

I oppose the scope of the Pear Tree Point Beach plan, and believe it’s important that residents remember how we got to this point.

The scope of the project was established on Oct. 24 last year when the Beach Building Committee met for the first time and was given its charge by Select Board Chair Jayme Stevenson.

The minutes of that meeting state that the “options under consideration” include “a restaurant, meeting space, and event space for catered affairs.” Ms. Stevenson instructed the members that they were a “brick and mortar” group, not a policy making group, and there would be no additional public hearings. In short, their charge was to proceed with the “options under consideration” in regard to the existing structures.

After that meeting I wrote to Parks & Recreation to ask who translated the master plan’s generic “rehabilitate or replace” recommendation for the structures into a set of options that included “a restaurant, meeting space, and event space for catered affairs.” Pam Gery wrote back to say that “The options set forth in the objectives were from my recommendations as the Director of the Darien Parks & Recreation Department.”

An honest answer, no doubt, but a deeply troubling one given how unpopular those options have proved to be. Bad enough that the scope of the project can be traced to a single individual rather than to a comprehensive needs assessment and cost analysis; but worse that the Select Board didn’t step in before this boondoggle reached the food fight stage.

In a public letter this week, a Parks & Recreation Committee member misses the point of the opposition by writing “I do think that this could be another transformative project for the town, like Weed Beach was.” Actually, what residents are trying to tell Town Hall is that Pear Tree doesn’t need to be “transformed” like Weed Beach. It just needs to be repaired.

Kudos to the individuals who have organized the opposition to this plan. Our Town Hall leaders have failed us, and we’re grateful to you for standing up to them.

David L. Smith

Darien

Residents beware — you have no voice regarding Pear Tree Point Beach

To the Editor:

Residents beware! You truly have no voice in whether a two-story structure is built at Pear Tree Beach. The absolute proof is that when you write a letter to town officials to voice your concerns over the PTPB construction, you receive the same email response whether you are writing to Pam Gery, the Parks & Rec Director, or our First Selectman, Jayme Stevenson: The town process and ultimately the Board of Selectmen, Board of Finance and RTM will determine whether this is a good project for the town. Your input is valued.”

Is my input valued? I think not. Their response says they will decide for us. I have attended nearly every building committee meeting since they began. Residents have voiced many different concerns but the primary concern is the building of a two-story structure at the beach. The committee has simply refused to fully explore the option of simply renovating the existing structures in spite of some committee members demanding it. They hide behind the explanation that they “must” build a second level to meet FEMA requirements. Then why is the most important element at the beach, the bathrooms, not being moved to the second level? The answer is it doesn’t need to be moved. Neither does the concession stand. Both buildings can be renovated for the $96K allowed by regulations. What can’t be included in the $96K rehab is rental/program space. The town is hiding behind FEMA in order to build a luxury space that isn’t needed or wanted by residents. The new tactic to convince town board members to approve this expense is that people who move into the 236 apartments being built in the next three years will need a “country club replacement venue” to eat on the beach! Seriously? What they will need is more parking spaces and the new plan has eliminated 36 parking spaces. Visit www.preservepeartreepointbeach.com to learn more about resident concerns.

Email your RTM representatives at darienrtm@darienct.gov If you don’t know your district, provide your street address and ask that your representatives are contacted. Find out if they support this project so you know how to vote in November on Election Day. Will your representative support this unnecessary expense?

Janienne Hackett

Darien

Hoping common sense will prevail regarding Pear Tree Point Beach project

To the Editor:

I question Jayme Stevenson’s comment at the League of Women Voters event last week that the Pear Tree Point development process is only in its beginning phases. She has been actively involved as a driver of the development for over a year. The development goes to Zoning Board of Appeals on Nov. 20. PTPBBC is considering no other alternatives.

From the model at Town Hall, we see that the building is essentially a marine-hardened elevator shaft with a commercial kitchen, attached to 800 sqft of year-round, heated, rentable space on a site that has been documented to be partially under water for 11 days in the past two months.

We understand that the Parks & Rec Director does consider the flooding relevant, as the building will be raised. I urge people to visit the site at high tide and decide for themselves whether they would spend their own money to build there.

There is also the cost to consider. The bathroom renovations are limited to $100,000. Where is the rest of the $2.5 million going? By FEMA regulation the first floor cannot be finished space. Some money will go to the beach enlargement and boat ramp. That leaves about $2mm going to build 1200 sqft of usable space. That’s over $1500 per sqft. Homes go for about $500 a sqft in Darien.

There are no estimates of ongoing maintenance costs. The town has conducted no traffic study, no flooding study and no environmental impact study. Why the rush on this development?

Hundreds and hundreds of townspeople have signed a petition on preservepeartreepointbeach.com in opposition to the development. Dozens have spoken against the development when permitted to at public meetings.

Hopefully, common sense will eventually prevail.

H P Boyle

Darien