OLD LYME — A meeting of the Sound View Commission on Monday night debated the cost of parking in the beach community and whether it is fair to expect visitors to balance the cost of additional town services during the summer months.
“The townspeople pay for police already and they pay for public works already,” said Commission Chair Frank Pappalardo, “Sound View is an additional drain on public works and police and services that the town operates. What we’re looking to do is to help defray the costs to the taxpayers of the Town of Old Lyme for what it costs to operate Sound View Beach.”
Sound View Beach generates substantial revenues from parking fees during the summer months, but that income is far outpaced — by more than $100,000 each year — by the seasonal costs of police, trash removal and other services, according to data presented by Pappalardo.
Commission Secretary Michaelle Pearson questioned the fairness of asking a single neighborhood to foot the bill for public services. Sound View Beach generates income unlike other town recreational areas paid for with taxpayer dollars, Pearson noted, and yet those other areas are not being asked to balance their costs with revenue.
“Why aren’t we asking what the town spends on Town Woods, Cross Lane, White Sands Beach and Rogers Lake? Those places don’t give revenue to the town but they have trash collection, swim lines, police presence,” she said. “What do the other beaches bring in, what do the playgrounds and ballfields bring in? Do you know what the maintenance on Town Woods is, on those ball fields? And nobody is saying that those should be paid for by some other means, other than taxpayer dollars. Why is Sound View not being paid for by taxpayer dollars, what is this extra nonsense?”
Pappalardo said that raising parking rates would increase revenue and bring Sound View Beach into parity with area beaches.
“First of all, our rates are significantly less than our neighboring towns. Misquamicut went up 50 percent on their rates, East Lyme has increased their rates, Clinton is now $75 per day,” he said.
Pappalardo also said many town residents who have beach parking stickers have complained there are not enough residents parking spaces at Sound View Beach.
“One of the concerns that has been brought up is we don’t have enough spaces for people that own residents parking stickers, that is a continual problem. So one of the scenarios is to increase the resident parking spaces from seven to 15, which would bring our paid spaces to 63 in the parking lot.”
Pappalardo said one scenario was to increase parking to $50 per day during the week and $75 per day on the weekends, which would increase revenue to $145,000. If the number of resident spaces were increased, the total revenue would decrease — for example, if the number of resident spaces were increased to 20, the total revenue would decrease $136,000.
He said the goal was to try to balance costs with parking revenue, a difference of about $106,720.
“The townspeople pay for police already and they pay for public works already, Sound View is an additional drain on public works and police and services that the town operates. What we’re looking to do is to help defray the costs to the taxpayers of the Town of Old Lyme for what it costs to operate Sound View Beach,” he said.
According to historical data and numbers obtained from Town Finance Director Nicole Stajduhar, the costs of operating Sound View Beach from Memorial Day to Labor Day total $198,680.
Pappalardo said the additional seasonal costs for Sound View amounted to $156,680, including $32,788 for regular and dedicated police, $10,000 for state police extra shifts, and $4,500 for extra local police shifts. Salaries for the rangers totaled $55,000 last year. Other costs include $2,500 for the ATV maintenance and amortization, $8,700 for beach cleaning, $14,400 for trash removal and disposal, and $1,000 for trash bags. The swim lines cost $4,400 plus $1,500 for repairs. Porta potties cost $6,000, and IT costs totaled $15,800.
The costs for Miami Beach include $40,000 for a security detail, $13,000 for beach cleaning, less a $11,000 town stipend for a total of $42,000.
Sound View resident Kathleen Tracy asked that parking prices be raised only gradually.
“It will push people away from the beach. Let’s not make it so difficult for people to come to the beach,” she said.
Tracy also objected to the idea that the taxpayers of Sound View Beach needed to pay for the extra services needed during the summer.
“We pay for the schools year round. Our taxes should be counted as revenue toward this beach. Why all of a sudden do we need to pay more to the town?” she asked.
Several other Sound View residents asked for confirmation of Pappalardo’s numbers.
Pappalardo also said he would ask the town to provide the costs for town services to Town Woods, Cross Lane, White Sands Beach and Rogers Lake. But he added that between Memorial Day and Labor Day, Sound View accounted for 7 percent of the total annual police calls in Old Lyme.
“It costs money to run this beach, how do we make that balance?” he said. “I didn’t expect us to walk out of here with a decision this evening. What I wanted to do was to start this conversation moving so that we can ask the proper questions and come back with the accurate answers.”