Submitted from Frank Farricker, Democrat, Candidate for First Selectman, October 18, 2015
The real facts about overcrowding at Tod’s Point are worse than even I thought they were for Greenwich residents who find them shut out of a calm day at the beach. I found out that at times 50% of the cars and visitors to our beaches are from out of town. While we recognize our obligations under the law and as good neighbors, I think it’s time that we return sanity to our Park and Beach policies. For years we have veered around from one approach to another, with no result ever solving the issue for the people of Greenwich. My common-sense proposals are simple, permissible and will make the park and beach experience what is should be for the people of Greenwich without unnecessary lawsuits, too high prices and all of the other problems that have plagued us for the last decade or more.
My proposals, which should be immediately implemented, include:
1) Daily access to our beaches has to have a fixed number of exclusively non-Greenwich residents who can be admitted each day. This is not based on how many passes are sold, but how many visitors are scanned at the beach entrances. This is based solely upon the safety and security of the beaches, and the communities adjoining them such as Old Greenwich and Byram. Since our beaches are in residential zones, we must consider not only the First Amendment rights of our visitors to congregate, but the rights of our community to control traffic, pollution and overcrowded conditions. We must set clear, specific, fair and rational numbers to preserve the safety and enjoyment of our parks, our streets and our residential communities.
2) Specific auto parking areas must be reserved for Greenwich residents. All residents should have the right to come to the beach and be able to park in a sane and rational manner. Similar plans are in effect at other local and State parks, so why not us? This will also serve to ensure access for the disabled and elderly of Greenwich to continue to have the kind of beach enjoyment they have experienced for decades before recent times.
3) We should not raise costs. It has been proven that the increased costs are having no true impact on the over attention given to Tod’s Point, Island Beach or Byram Beach by daily visitors from as far away as Pennsylvania and New Jersey. By trying to use this approach to keep access down, we only penalize ourselves when we bring guests to the beach. We don’t need a beach tax on top of card fees to be in effect.
4) We should explore the ability to limit access to Connecticut residents and their guests. The property at Cos Cob Park was granted to Greenwich on the condition that it be allowed access to all Connecticut residents, not to all. We share the shoreline, its costs and its operation with our fellow Connecticutters, and our beaches should not be any different than our parks.
I believe these reasonable, legal and sane proposals will return the beach experience in Greenwich back to something like it was when I was young. I believe if we act now, we can have that next spring and summer and I will make it a top priority when elected First Selectman.