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West Wharf Beach Expansion Plan To Be Presented At Annual Town Meeting Tuesday

At the Annual Town Meeting on Tuesday, the basic details of the proposal will be discussed, but First Selectman Fillmore McPherson said that any such deal would have to go through the requisite hearings and approvals before it is formalized.

First Selectman Fillmore McPherson presents the West Wharf Beach Park Enhancement Plan Monday night at the Board of Selectmen meeting. Photo credit: Pem McNerney
First Selectman Fillmore McPherson presents the West Wharf Beach Park Enhancement Plan Monday night at the Board of Selectmen meeting. Photo credit: Pem McNerney
At the Annual Town Meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 28th, Madison residents will be able to hear the state of the town report, the five-year capital plan, and to take action on establishing a permanent Veteran's Advisory Joint Committee.

And, at the meeting, to be held at Polson Middle School on Green Hill Road at 7:30 p.m., they will be able to hear about a new proposal involving the town and Madison Beach Hotel. The plan is called the West Wharf Beach Park Enhancement Plan. 

The basics of the plan were discussed at the Board of Selectmen meeting Monday night at town campus.

As part of this proposed deal, the third to be considered between the town and the hotel in the past few years: 
  • the town will get 3,007 square feet of beach property, including 80 feet of beachfront
  • the town will get $100,000 from Madison Beach Hotel to use to improve the parking area
  • the parking area will be expanded by 19 spaces, to 49 spaces
  • permeable pavers will be installed in the parking area, which will reduce storm water drainage onto the beach, drainage that has caused problems with shellfishing and damage to the beach
  • Madison Hose Co. No. 1 will get a dedicated parking area for their vehicles, so that they can more easily access their rescue boat, which launches from a mooring off of the beach
  • Madison Beach Hotel will get 3,824 square feet of a grassy area in front of the hotel, known as the grassy strip
  • the town will get a five-foot buffer between the grassy strip and the dunes in that area, so that people will be able to walk along the dunes and easily access the beach
  • the town will retain the beach in front of the dunes
There also are plans for a possible bench seating area on the beach side of the dunes, that will be owned by the town. 

Requisite hearings and approvals required before deal is formalized

At the Annual Town Meeting on Tuesday, the basic details of the proposal will be discussed, but First Selectman Fillmore McPherson said that any such deal would have to go through the requisite hearings and approvals before it is formalized. He said the proposal is still in the initial stages. 

McPherson said during the meeting that, during the initial proposal involving Madison Beach Hotel and the town about five years ago, the voters spoke out loud and clear. He said the message the town received was that the town should not give up the beach in front of the dunes, which was then part of the property that would have gone to the hotel. 

"That was the takeaway five years ago, the town did not want to give up the beachfront piece" of property, he said. 

"We put our foot down, no beach" 

He said the town has been negotiating on and off with the hotel and "we put our foot down, no beach." 

If the proposal goes through, the parking area will extend from Parker Avenue "headed south," McPherson said. "And there will be a dedicated spot for Madison Hose Company to launch their boat, so that they don't have to maneuver around to park. And none of this will cost the town money, because Madison Beach Hotel will provide $100,000 to make improvements." 

"And Madison Beach Hotel will get 3,824 square feet of grass," McPherson said. "There will still be a five-foot pathway along the dunes so that people can make their way down to the beach no matter what." 

Selectmen voice approval, confirm that proposal is "still in creative stage"

Selectman Joan Walker said she thinks the new proposal "shows an equitable distribution." She said the new proposal was a "very positive" development.

Selectman Robert Hale said, "clearly the town heard the message, no beachfront" should be given away by the town as part of the deal.

Selectman Al Goldberg said he just wanted to confirm that the proposal is "just conceptual at the moment. This is still in the creative stage?" he asked. 

"Yes, this is just the guts of the proposal," McPherson said. "There are still many hoops to jump through." 


Cathy Marsh January 27, 2014 at 10:58 PM
Reminds me of the vote for the Stop and Shop expansion. How many times was there a vote on that ---- until they town Fathers --- I mean Stop and Shop got what they wanted ?
ted Aub January 28, 2014 at 06:38 AM
The Veterans Joint Advisory Committee has already been established and Selectman Voted on and approved in Madison. Two of its three members have already been sworn in.
tom burland January 28, 2014 at 06:47 AM
This proposal appears in surface to address the reasons the first proposal was declined. The beach ti west of parking lot is retained, town gets additional beach property to east. The largest taxpayer in town (Hotel) solidifies its long term use of property they have always used. Appears win/win. Look forward to hearing more details, but is appears the group working through this has addressed issues. Seems business and tax payer friendly
Matt January 28, 2014 at 06:54 AM
It make sense to barter the grass to the hotel. It has no actual public use or purpose and never has. The hotel already uses it anyway, either unofficially or through a backdoor "seasonal lease" our leaders came up with last year. Making it the hotel's property takes the liability off the town and taxpayers. Right now, anything that goes wrong on that piece of grass for a hotel event becomes a legal and financial risk to the town, and for nothing. As far as I'm concerned, they can have it. As long as it isn't coming with the beachfront, which in this case, it isn't. The beach is public and the hotel guests are welcome to use it just like everyone else. As for the parking spaces, the ones outside the gates will probably be filled with hotel guests most of the time. But who cares? They're paying for it, and it's outside the gates so that's fine. Playing up all these new parking spaces as if they are for the beach is a little disingenuous. They're outside the gate and not really just for the beach. Again, not a deal breaker to me, just the usual crap from our leaders.
Janet January 28, 2014 at 07:16 AM
I agree that this deal appears to be a win/win. Two points of clarification however: is MBH paying for the parking lot expansion PLUS providing the $100k for improvements? Where is the new 89 feet if beachfront? There is a beach front home being built to replace the fish house, which it assume will have beach front property? Is MBH assessed at the right valuation with the grassy strip land? What is the assessed value if that land for commercial use?
Ann January 28, 2014 at 07:28 AM
Will they have the right to build on or fence off the grassy strip? Will they still own the piece of beach where they currently put out hotel chairs and is off limits for locals?
patricia donohue January 28, 2014 at 07:54 AM
Call me old-fashion, but the character of West Wharf has already changed forever. Some of us oldies must accept the change and, in my case, I have moved on to East Wharf beach, which reflects the true,non-commercial nature of our unique and picturesque shoreline. My only concern with this collaboration, former and future ones with MBH, is the changing of ownership down the road. It is fine that the Duques family, with local root, propose these changes with a "community-minded" slant, but it is a business. Something to keep in mind. Enough said...
Gus R. Horvath January 28, 2014 at 11:39 AM
To All. Attend the Annual Town Meeting tonight and ask your questions there.
Janet January 28, 2014 at 01:35 PM
No can do Gus, I am a seasonal resident and cannot make it there tonight. I would hope there would be another avenue for us full tax paying but seasonal folks to have our questions answered and voices heard. Or maybe some kind soul will ask my questions for me?
Jay D January 28, 2014 at 04:20 PM
McPherson does not care what we say anyways
Gus R. Horvath January 28, 2014 at 06:10 PM
Jay D. I have found Phil to be very responsive to my frequent discussions about Town of Madison issues. Have you discussed this with him?
Gus R. Horvath January 28, 2014 at 06:43 PM
Janet. Click on the plan and it enlarges. You may find answers to your questions on the plan.
Jay D January 28, 2014 at 07:15 PM
I have in the past, not on this topic. He does not return emails

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