Marina slip rates hiked 5 percent
FAIRFIELD — It’s about to become pricier for boat owners to dock in the marina and for nonresidents to go the beach in town.
The Parks and Recreation Commission voted 5-2 Wednesday night to hike marina slip fees by 5 percent and also voted for nonresident beach stickers to increase to $200.
What had been planned to be a 10 percent increase for marina slip fees instead became a 5 percent increase, after several boat owners and residents showed up at the meeting arguing against the hike.
Recreation Director Anthony Calabrese had proposed several options for rate increases in marina slip fees, ranging from 5 percent to 25 percent. In his presentation Wednesday night, Calabrese compared slip fee prices with other towns like Greenwich and Westport, which tend to charge higher rates.
With the 5 percent increase, slip fees for small boats will rise to $594.25, medium boats to $885.31, large boats to $1,468.53 and premium boats to $1,783.38.
During the public comment section of the meeting, nearly a dozen people argued less against a rate increase and more for seeing a reinvestment of these revenues into the marina itself, in projects such as dredging the channel and improving amenities.
“If you want to increase the rates, do it after building amenities that are comparable to other towns,” Board of Education Vice Chairman Nick Aysseh said. “We would expect an increase after investments in improvements.”
The 5 percent hike would result in an additional $25,000 in revenue for the town. The town is also actively looking for a new marina director, as the role was vacated earlier this year.
“We have no problem with the rate increase, but put the money back in the marina,” resident Doug Chavanello said.
Scott Walker, chairman of the commission, said they faced moderate pressure from town bodies on increasing revenue figures from the marina.
“The feedback from these town bodies is that the marina is an asset of the town,” Walker said. “It’s town property and the town views it as an underutilized revenue source.”
Commissioners said those impacted by the fare hikes should also voice their concerns within their Representative Town Meeting districts, the selectmen and the finance board.
Regarding the dredging of the channel, Walker said a permit had been filed and funds had also been appropriated for the gas dock building.
“This is not a mandate, but a strong suggestion from all of the town bodies,” Jessica Gerber said. “It’s not just about the marina — all of the fees on Parks and Recreation have been raised, there are plenty of programs that also have seen rate increases.”
On the matter of nonresident beach sticker fees, commissioners discussed charging above Calabrese’s proposed $200 fee, though some countered that doing so would reduce the number of people interested in purchasing these.
Ultimately, the commission opted to approve the new $200 fee. Nonresident beach goers are currently charged $175.
The new prices would take effect in December for beach sticker sales, and in Februrary for boat slip renewals, according to Calabrese.