Southport Beach stand, foiled again in Westport, wanders back to town
On the road again. And again.
The former Southport Beach concession stand, lacking a permanent home since Hurricane Sandy swept it from the beachfront last year, was residing -- temporarily -- at a state-owned commuter parking lot on the Sherwood Island Connector in Westport this week.
But because of what Hunter King, the building's owner, called a "miscommunication with the DOT," he was forced Wednesday to again move the shack, which sat in a corner of the commuter lot for nearly a week.
When he got to the commuter lot Wednesday afternoon, King said he found the shack was hitched to a tow truck sent by the state Department of Transportation. "They wanted $845 to move it, and then they said it would cost $2,000," said King, who claimed he had a permit from the DOT to leave it in the lot. "It's a permit for `oversize/overweight (vehicles) trip and return,' " he said. "It was good for a week, but we weren't there that long."
"We are trying to check on this and talk to Mr. King," Judd Everhart, DOT spokesman said Thursday.
King said he told the tow truck operator he would move the stand himself. "We took it to Nyala Farms where the property manager said we could leave it until noon today," King said Thursday morning.
The next planned destination for the small, weathered building? A private residence in Southport, King said.
In the months-long saga over the future of the former Southport concession stand, King last week had moved it from a parking lot at Burying Hill Beach in Westport -- where he lacked permission to leave it -- to the commuter lot.
"We moved it during the day," he said, adding it only took "about five minutes" to complete the move of the structure that had housed a food concession he ran in Southport prior to last October's storm. This time, he said, the concession stand was secured to the trailer by "some yellow tie-down straps."
King was the last person to run the stand at Southport Beach, where it had been a fixture for six decades, and in its place last summer operated a mobile concession stand.
Prior to Burying Hill Beach, the stand had been deposited on the nearby front lawn of a friend's house on Beachside Avenue in Westport.
But King said, "It had to be moved because they were having a wedding there."
That site was the initial refuge for the stand after Fairfield officials threatened to demolish it if King did not move it from Southport Beach. Town officials have said that, in future, they want only mobile vendors on that beach.
King, nonetheless, hopes eventually to bring the building back to Southport Beach. However, Gerald Lombardo, Fairfield's park and recreation director, has said, "it definitely won't be going back" there.
Westport Police Capt. Sam Arciola said his department had been in contact with King since the shack turned up on Beachside Avenue, and called the stand "a hazard" when it was at Burying Hill.
Local police had no jurisdiction over the stand when it was at the commuter lot, and referred questions to State Police prior to its move Wednesday.