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Thursday, April 26 News

Wayward beach shack re-surfaces in Westport again -- with fresh troubles for owner

An employee at Village Bagels said he first spotted the weather-worn wooden shack in late December in the back lot of the Post Road East shopping center that is also home to Home Goods and Walgreens.

But it was gone by last Friday, he said, just days after Hunter King, who owns the former concession stand that stood for years at Fairfield's Southport Beach, apparently moved it once again to another location.

Since last summer, the stand has been hauled to several properties here and in Fairfield -- usually without the permission of the property owner -- and then been forced to move to yet another site.

In the process, King has been cited several times by police for abandoning a motor vehicle -- the stand sits atop a flat-bed trailer -- and has also been issued infractions for simple trespassing.

The most recent charges were filed by Westport police came in late December when it was determined that King didn't have permission to put the shack behind the stores located at 1800 Post Road East.

"The trailer and shack have been known to this department for several months due to numerous complaints," states the police report, dated Dec. 29.

It said the shack had also been left "on town property for [an] extended amount of time without permission" by King, resulting in King being cited for abandoning a motor vehicle.

Before that, police said, King had deposited the shack behind a business, Rogers Septic Tanks, on Post Road East without permission from the owner. It said not only had it been stored there "for an extended period of time against the will of the owner," it also hampered the company's snow removal efforts after a storm.

In that matter, King was cited for simple trespass and two counts of abandoning a motor vehicle.

Most recently, police contacted the company run by the shopping center owner and spoke with a company representative, Annie Raab.

She said that King had tried to contact the owner to ask for permission to leave the shack behind the Post Road East buildings.

Raab, who could not be reached for comment Friday, told police the owner didn't want the shack on the property.

Police then contacted King at his business, the Red Hen restaurant at the Westport Inn, about the complaint.

King "acknowledged that he did not have permission" to leave the shack and trailer he uses to transport it at either location -- the septic tank business and the shopping center -- according to the police report..

"He said he was currently in the process of moving" the concession shack to a location in Weston, the report states.

King could not be reached Friday for comment, but it was not immediately known he has moved the shack now.

The wooden concession stand, which was washed from its Southport Beach site by the surge from Superstorm Sandy in October 2012, has been at the center of a months-long, controversial odyssey. King has been struggling to find a spot for the shack while he tried to work out a deal with Fairfield officials to bring the stand back to Southport Beach.

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King purchased the stand from the town of Fairfield for $450 and had hoped to repair it and bring it up to Federal Emergency Management Agency standards for temporary buildings and then use it as a mobile concession at Southport Beach this coming season. But Fairfield officials have vowed that will never happen.

Officials have issued a request for proposals from vendor candidates to offer mobile concession services at Southport and Sasco beaches, and one of the criterion is that the be brought to and from the beach each day.

When Fairfield rejected King's pleas to let him keep the concession stand at Southport Beach, and issued a demolition order for the structure in June, King's search for a permanent home for the stand began.

And, it appears, that quest continues.