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$8.5m renovation project begins for Horseneck Beach

WESTPORT -- One of the most popular ocean beaches in Massachusetts will get a major facelift over the next two years.

State and local officials broke ground yesterday on an $8.5 million renovation project at Horseneck Beach in Westport.

The 10,000-foot-long stretch of sand was established as a state park in 1957 and can attract up to 15,000 visitors on a hot, sunny day.

The project, led by the Department of Conservation and Recreation, will include two new bathhouse buildings, replace the bathhouse in the central plaza area, and increase the number of toilets at both ends of the beach.

The new bathhouses are expected to reduce water use at the facility by at least 50 percent, due in part to the installation of composting toilets.

"This new design will improve DCR's ability to manage this facility in a safer and more environmentally sound manner, as well as providing many new amenities for visitors," Commissioner Richard K. Sullivan Jr. said during the groundbreaking ceremonies at the beach.

The renovation will also create new pedestrian pathways and shaded areas.

Work is expected to be completed by June 2009.