Although this is not the time of year when residents ordinarily focus on our town beaches, I would like to describe actions that have been taken by the Parks and Recreation Commission regarding the beaches. Over the past several years, we have instituted policies for the purpose of enhancing enjoyment by beach users, balanced with neighborhood and financial concerns, and preserving the beauty of the areas.

For example, we have instituted controls over where people can walk their dogs in the off-season: on leash at Penfield; off leash at Jennings. Smoking is banned at Jennings Beach except in designated areas. If you haven't seen the new Penfield Pavilion, I hope you visit there soon. It's a gem.

The Parks and Rec Commission meets monthly, after our agenda is posted publicly, as is customary and required. In prior months we discussed beach-sticker policy, which culminated in specific votes this past month. Overall, the changes made were to keep the beaches affordable and at the same time to generate some town income for ever-increasing costs. Every change made considered fairness to the residents. All of the following pertains to the "beach season."

Penfield remains free to all residents with a "Penfield only" sticker. The basic rate of $20 for "all-beach" stickers remains. However, seniors (62 years of age or older) who request "all-beach" stickers will be charged $10 per vehicle. This is in line with senior discounting which occurs in other town services. If a senior does not own a car but requires a caregiver to gain beach access, a "hand pass" is available for $10. Depending on age, handicapped individuals will also pay $10 or $20 per vehicle for "all-beach" stickers.

If a lake-pass holder desires a dump pass, a separate dump-pass fee will be collected.

Extended hours: The collection of daily parking fees will be extended at Jennings and Penfield, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., except to 6 p.m. on fireworks night. In addition, movie night at Jennings Beach will require a beach sticker or otherwise the daily fee must be paid until 9:30 p.m.

This month the commission will be reviewing the suggested budget for the upcoming fiscal year. I am always amazed at how much Parks and Rec provides for so little in funding. Add to that the dedication of Parks and Recreation Department Director Gerry Lombardo and his staff, together with support from Public Works Director Richard White and his staff, and the benefit to all of us is just immeasurable. Truly we are blessed to live in this fine town.

Ellery Plotkin, chairman

Fairfield Parks and Recreation