Commission OKs bigger beach fees
The price of fun in the Fairfield sun will increase next year for those who use the town's beaches.
Beach sticker fee increases were unanimously approved by the Parks and Recreation Commission Wednesday night.
The resident fee went from $18 to $20; the non-resident fee rose from $120 to $135; the non-resident town employee fee went from $41 to $45; and beach sticker fee for property owners who don't live here saw the beach sticker fee rise from $50 to $55.
Going into the meeting, the non-resident fee was proposed at $130, $5 below what was approved. Conversely, the non-resident town employee fee was proposed at $50, $5 above what was approved.
About 10 minutes into the discussion, Brian Nerreau suggested that the increases, to be fair, should have the same percentage increase across the board. Figures were rounded up and down based on the 11 percent increase for residents.
When it was clear Nerreau had the support of his fellow commissioners, Brenda Kupchick, the Board of Education liaison to the Parks and Recreation Commission, said the modified proposed increases was more fair.
Although the beach sticker fees have been raised, the $5 walk-in fee for those who wanted a sticker in the same visit has been eliminated. Parks and Recreation commissioner Dante Gallucci said people would often get mad when they went to the Eunice Postol Recreation Center for other things -- such as a golf ID or signing a child up for soccer -- and were informed of the walk-in fee for an instantaneous beach sticker.
"The front line takes a lot of abuse," said Parks and Recreation Department Director Gerry Lombardo. Residents who renewed their stickers online -- or mailed in their forms for a sticker -- avoided the $5 fee but had to wait a few days to get their sticker. As more and more people renew their stickers online, the number of people making visits to the recreation center has lessened. The staff didn't have the lines this past season that it did in previous years. The numbers weren't hard to handle and so it was decided the $5 fee could be done away with.
Lombardo said the beach sticker fee increases will make up for the walk-in fee revenue, which was about $15,000 this year. He also noted during the beach sticker discussion that beach use was significantly higher this year than in previous years, and he attributed that to "stay-cations."
In fact, revenue from daily parking increased from $90,000 in 2008 to $140,000 in 2009. Lombardo, during a phone interview yesterday, estimated that with the various changes (beach sticker increases, elimination of the walk-in fee), the Parks and Recreation Department stands to come out $40,000 ahead.
In other news, the Parks and Recreation Commission changed its policy regarding RVs. Once allowed at both Penfield Beach and Jennings Beach, they will now only be permitted at Jennings. This change puts the RVs in line with buses, which have not been allowed at Penfield because of their size. Daily parking for a resident or non-resident, if they don't have a beach sticker, is $15 during the week and $25 on weekends.
Parks and Recreation commissioner Robert Seirup said he liked the idea of charging an RV the same rate as a bus, which is $63, regardless of the day. However, the commission didn't engage him in a discussion on that opinion, other than someone saying there would likely be a lot less people in an RV than in a bus.
When the commission briefly talked about the new skate park that was dedicated on Monday when the ground-breaking began. It was decided there is no age limit on who can skate there. An official ribbon-cutting will take place some time in the spring.