Hikes for 2016 Greenwich Beach Fees Approved. Expect Uniformed Police Presence Starting Memorial Day.

Parks & Rec director Joe Siciliano replies to Drew Marzullo's question about whether a $10 increase in fee for a car at the beach will solve the over-crowding problem. Jan. 14, 2016 Credit: Leslie Yager

Parks & Rec director Joe Siciliano replies to Drew Marzullo\’s question about whether a $10 increase in fee for a car at the beach will solve the over-crowding problem. Jan. 14, 2016 Credit: Leslie Yager

On Thursday Greenwich Board of Selectmen voted to approve the proposed beach fees hike 2 to 1, with Selectman Marzullo,the lone Democrat on the board, opposing the fee hike on the grounds that it wouldn’t necessarily solve the overcrowding problem at Tod’s Point that so many residents complained about last summer.

At the meeting, First Selectman Peter Tesei thanked the Parks & Rec board for their subcommittee report on beach crowding, environmental concerns and safety. The report was produced by the Patrick Slyne (subcommittee chair), Nancy Caplan (board chair), Cathy Weisenberg, Scott Johnson, Gary Del’Abate, John Hartwell.

The report pointed out that people had been arriving at the beach early in the morning before the gate was attended, which Mr. Tesei described as a loophole that would be closed. Also, he said he’d heard anecdotally about issues of road rage and all manner of parking violations.

beach passesFee Hikes and Uniformed Police Presence
Before the board took its vote on the proposed fee increases, of a daily car parking for non-card holders from $25 to $35, a day pass from $6 to $7, and an adult season pass for from $32 to $33, he announced a significant decision.

A uniformed Greenwich Police officer will be assigned to the beach on peak days, which include weekends and holidays beginning Memorial Day and running through Labor Day.

A Park Ranger, identified by his yellow shirt, rides the Island Beach Ferry.

A Park Ranger, identified by his yellow shirt, rides the Island Beach Ferry.

“We tried the rangers, which was a noble effort, but they didn’t have the same effect as law enforcement,” Mr. Tesei said, adding that people simply don’t respond the same way as they do toward someone in uniform.

On Thursday, Selectman Marzullo asked Parks & Rec director Joe Siciliano if he was confident the fee hikes would alleviate overcrowding. While Mr. Siciliano said he couldn’t guarantee it would, he did say it was “fair and equitable, and in line with other beach communities.”

Marzullo said he’d consulted the law department about what constitutes a legal increase in context of whether the price increase to park a car and pay for per person passes will alleviate overcrowding, and stated he

“We got a beach. Stamford’s got a beach. Which one are you going to go to?

I would look at the cost structures and pick the cheaper one if it had everything being equal” – Peter Tesei

Mr. Tesei said adding that the fee hike was not intended to control crowds but was a question of charging for the value for the resource in the market. “The market is the other public beaches,” he said.

Mr. Toner asked whether the fee hike would cover the cost of the uniformed police officer, Mr. Siciliano said, “They’re working with us, but there will be some supplemental dollars necessary to fund the police.”

Mr. Tesei said the dollar amount for the police presence was somewhere between $20,000 and $30,000. “In the context of the police department budget it is an eyelash,” Tesei said.

 The daily parking fee of $25 has not increased since 2001.

The daily parking fee of $25 has not increased since 2001.

Mr. Siciliano  pointed out that there are residents who do not purchase beach passes, and prefer instead to pay by the day if they only visit the beach a few times.

The Greenwich fire marshal, Sean O’Donnell, who attended the meeting, said he was skeptical whether parking fees would impact crowds. “In theory we can be overcrowded by 10:00am and not have a single non resident at the beach,” he said.

At the December Parks & Rec board meeting, Frank Cantelmo pointed out that Tod’s Point will become even more popular with the addition of the Susie Baker Pavilion. “The issue of claiming space is going to be a problem with people putting their towel down and reserving a table and chairs for the day, not eating things from the concession stand.”

Screen Shot 2016-01-15 at 9.06.05 AM

See also:

Will Proposed Fee Hike Put a Dent in the Crowds at Tod’s Pt?

Interesting Parks & Rec Vote on Extending Dog Season at the Beach

Greenwich Concession Stands Coming up for Bid at Tod’s and Island Beach

(The RFPs for concessions at Island Beach and Tod’s Pt are posted on the Town of Greenwich website. Deadline is Jan. 27, 2016)

A Peek at the Susan Baker Pavilion at Greenwich Point

Crowded Beach: Resident Suggests a Non-Resident Parking Area, Building Cost of Police into Non-Resident Day Passes

Serious Overcrowding at Tod’s Point May Result in Increased Police Presence Next Summer

Are Greenwich Beaches Too Crowded?


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  • Horatio Fisk

    Rather naïve and underhanded way to justify increasing fee’s. The overcrowding is because you have MORE Greenwich Residents going to the beach and many more Greenwich families with children than you did 5 or 10 years ago. The overcrowding is not from non residents. I grew up in Greenwich but live in Stamford and bought passes on weekends at the civic center. There was rarely a line beyond a few people even on weekend mornings. BTW the comfy table and chairs was a huge bad idea for the new pavilion. It encourages people to lounge around. Picnic tables work for a reason…they become less comfortable after a half hour or so and people go back to the beach. Greenwich I think needs an ergonomics and user experience expert… I am available.

    • justice4all

      well said! BUT I disagree that overcrowding is due to residents! I took my grandsons to the beach several times/week last summer and each time I met non-residents who were thrilled at “discovering” the “best beach around” & how cheap it was to attend. All were very friendly & almost all were from Westchester. On day, we took a former resident back to Tod’s & she met a large group of non-residents having a party with musical instruments behind the 2nd concession stand. They were non-English speaking, but our friend spoke their language & learned they were also from Westchester. I don’t mind sharing our beach as long as people are friendly & respect the rules. I’m still not sure who all the rule-breakers were who ignored numerous requests from lifeguards to stop throwing frisbees and balls on the crowded beach and in the water….I think a policeman on the beat there will help that issue. Overcrowding is another issue. Perhaps no non-residents on holidays & weekends before 2 pm? I agree with raised fees. We’ve paid much more for beach access along the shores of New England! Bottom line: let’s all get along and not be the snobs we are purported to be on the outside!

  • John B.

    GOOD JOB “Dream Team “with your pathetic increases you came up with from the Selectmen office! Town Hall goes running with their tails between their legs AGAIN. Greenwich should put signs on I-95 North & Southbound ( Ct. Beach Exit 5 ).

    • sara b

      Exactly, John B! Dumb and dumber. Perhaps a more appropriate approach would be to leave the $25.00 car charge as is, and raise the packed minivans to $10.00 per person. What a joke. Wow…

  • Cherri Mae

    They might have considered different fee structures for out of state versus out of town vehicles, but no. Also they may be creating a parking problem in the Town of Old Greenwich when many people figure out they can skip the $35 parking and walk in for $7 since there is currently no ordinance against this and no just way to discriminate. Not that well thought out at all.

  • Chuck

    It seems obvious to a lot of Greenwich residents, that the minimal increase is to keep those out-of-towners overcrowding our beaches, so the Selectman will have the extra revenue for other pet projects. Why wouldn’t they make the fees the same as Darien and Westport at $50 a car? The Selectman know exactly what they’re doing but they could care less about the residents, it’s all about the $$.

  • John B.

    Chuck, You nailed it! More out of Town residents = more Ca$h to pay for Greenwich Town Hall wasted spending .

    -Welcome To Connecticut !
    *Exit 5 Cheap Beach*

  • Chuck

    Here’s the game, Drew Marzullo wants no increase and Peter Tesei fights for an increase and Voila! a meager $10.00 increase is achieved! so they can keep the price of the beach still cheaper than Darien & Westpost, so the $$ keeps rolling in for their side projects and the Greenwich residents have to deal with all the non-resident riff raff. Wow! you Selectman really outsmarted us!

  • John B.

    Can anyone explain why Greenwich Beach access is so affordable compared to our neighboring towns ? Why are residents beach passes going up in price if TOG is collecting money from NON RESIDENTS?

  • Chuck

    John, What are you doing? You’re making too much sense. Do you know how many years Westport’s Compo beach has been charging $50 bucks to non-residents? Over a decade. The Selectman are keeping it low on purpose for the revenue stream, at the expense of the Greenwich middle class. Either that or they’re trying to emulate those gorgeous beaches on City Island and New Rochelle.

  • Jodi Weisz

    I am a big park user. I write raving letters about Greenwich’s nice parks all the time. Joe S. knows this.

    But, when it comes to Greenwich’s beach…I am of the opinion that the residents of Greenwich deserve and should have a quiet, beautiful, accessible beach that is mostly used by the tax-payers.

    They deserve this. This is a very important town resource that should not be flung open to non-residents because by the very nature of it, that it is a public space in which one goes to for peace and rejuvenation, overuse is antagonistic to its purpose. Like a relaxing hike in a National Park, nobody wants this experience to be akin to a visit to an amusement park.

    So, I too, believe that these low non-resident fees are outrageous.

    There are already many, many, many town parks that non-residents can use and access and enjoy.

    Again, Greenwichites are being sold out by Town workers who want to fling open our resources to outsiders because they, I am sorry, to tell you this, do not feel like we deserve the resources and services we pay for.

    I know this is hard on the ears.

    Stop the beach overcrowding now.

  • Jodi Weisz

    Raise the Beach Pass fees to non-residents.

    Raise the “tuition” non-resident employees pay to use our public school system.

    Cut the Old Greenwich Library’s budget by 30%.

    Require that all Town employees making 100K+ a year be Greenwich residents.

    • Allison Vera

      Require all town employees who make over $100,000 to be Greenwich residents? Where would they be able to afford to live? Are you proposing we change zoning to allow for a trailer park?

      • Jodi Weisz

        Allison:

        There are hundreds of affordable listings on the MLS of housing under 600,000K in Greenwich.

        With a $185,00K dollar a year salary–like, even, secretaries at town hall make and all directors of various departments, including the whopping salaries of the Director of the Greenwich Library and the Director of the Old Greenwich Library (in New Jersey, these same libraries make around 70-80K) never $180,000, they can ALL afford to buy a starter home in Greenwich and “move up” to another home within 5 years.

        That is not asking so much now is it?

        I can put them all in touch with good, honest realtors who will find them a classy and nice place to live here in Town.

        The myth that Greenwich is too expensive for our municipal workers and teachers is exactly that–a myth.

        They buy $700,000 homes in Easton and Weston and own million dollar plus homes in Rye, Darien and Ridgefield.

        Just google their addresses.

        If the taxpayers are paying you $100,000K a year–you need to live in this Town.

        This will quickly gentrify the Hamilton Avenue neighborhood for those who want a less expensive Greenwich address.

  • John B.

    Bottom line : Make as much money as you can here while living in Greenwich , and Get out as soon as you can!

  • Chuck

    Jodi, you have my vote when you run for Selectman/Selectwomen.

    • Jodi Weisz

      There is no way I would ever win. While I hate governmental bloat and I might get some votes because of this, I also don’t support the two tier public school system.

      I also have issues with the Recreation Centers using most of their space to rent out to for-profit organizations, as good as the mission they might be, like offering ballet classes and toddler classes.

      Go to the Western Civic Center (which is impeccably clean and has a punctual staff).

      Only one room–the basketball court–and only when outside groups aren’t paying the town to use it–is available to the general public, to kids.

      What is the rest of the building used for? For non-profit and for-profits to run their groups, classes and agencies.

      Some of these groups come from as far away as Suffolk County, NY and New Jersey!

      Their owners are not even Greenwich residents.

      I have no idea what they pay in rent to use all the rooms in the Town’s rec center.

      My question is: why does the Town of Greenwich feel like it should give so many outside, non-residents subsidized rents, a subsidized education, subsidized housing and a plethora of services?

      The public services in Town are all run by 100K a year salaried employees who–I repeat–DO NOT LIVE HERE.

      This is what has eroded our town. It is a quiet erosion.

      On a macro level this is what is going on in the State of CT.

  • Jodi Weisz

    Allison:

    As I have repeatedly pointed out, most of the municipal employees making 100K who have children would not be satisfied sending their children to New Lebanon, Hamilton Avenue nor Julian Curtiss.

    These schools are not good enough for them.

    So they choose to move to Stamford buy a $575,000 home and pay $2553 in “tuition” to send their children to one of Greenwich’s top performing schools, a school that is ranked in the 90% percentile, like North Mianus and Riverside.

    The BOE knows this and condones it. They save seats in the most exclusive schools for non-residents’ children, quietly behind the back of the middle class families “stuck” in Greenwich’s lower performing schools (with proficiency that hovers between the 50-60% percentile).

    Frankly, I think the Town leadership should get tough with the BOE.

    The achievement gap basically keeps municipal employees from living here and, ultimately, investing in this town, not just financially, but spiritually (as a member of our Towns’ religious institutions), emotionally (as a community activist or volunteer) and physically (as someone who reaches out to a neighbor or builds community).

    No, the answer is not to build trailer parks. The answer is to get rid of the achievement gap, which can be closed in three short years, if the BOE would stop its irrational segregation.

  • Jodi Weisz

    If the BOE stopped its heavy handed segregation the tax assessment roles would surge as housing values in the Byram, Hamilton Avenue and Julian Curtiss neighborhoods would zoom.

    This would translate into MORE money for the Town’s coffers as there is a ceiling on the property evaluation of the Town’s current segregated communities. The neighborhoods with the poor performing schools, like NL, HA, and JC have an upside of 40-60%!!!

    If only the BOE would end their policies which are basically suppressing the tax assessment role in our Town.

    Why don’t Town leaders address this head on?

    Because they are afraid to conflict with parents in their childrens’ schools that are leery of diversity.

    The diversity that Greenwich has will not degrade test scores in the high performing schools by more than 3% and only for 2 years.

    Meanwhile ending the two track public school system here will increase the overall tax role for the town in a HUGE way.

  • John B.

    Isn’t this article about the Cheap Beach of Greenwich Ct. EXIT 5 ?

    • Jodi Weisz

      So true, John.

      Low beach fees are spoiling the beach for the taxpayers and homeowners and legitimate renters while fostering a false expectation that Greenwich’s town services are “for the taking” for clever non-residents.

  • Chuck

    John,
    I know Jodi is off topic but I am so glad she’s exposing the corruption in the town. I started to laugh when Jodi mentioned the “private” companies working out of Western Civic Center. What is that all about? I remember I was with my son at Pemberwick Park and my 6 yr. old son had to go the bathroom, so we went into the yellow house in the park and the women who runs her business out of the house, saw me and my son and she was so rude when I said my son had to use the bathroom. Why is she running her company out of Pemberwick Park? Get a private office! What’s the town doing?