Original Story:March 31, 2016 11:00am
At the March 30 Parks & Rec board meeting Parks & Rec director Joe Siciliano reviewed proposed fees for the Byram pool.
The pricing for day passes at Byram Pool (construction has yet to start) is predicated on the Board of Selectmen’s approval of a policy for non-residents use of the pool.
At the March 24, at the bi-monthly Board of Selectmen (BOS) meeting, Peter Tesei said the BET had placed a condition on release of funds for Byram pool project. Specifically, the BOS must approve a fee and usage policy before the funds will be released.
At that March 24 BOS meeting, Town attorney Wayne Fox said a precedent had been set in 1998 following Brenden Leydon’s lawsuit against the Town for access to the beach by outsiders. He said access to the beach is predicated on beaches being considered natural resources. A swimming pool is another story.
“The court specifically said, ‘We conclude Greenwich Point is a traditional public forum because it has the characteristics of a public park,” Mr. Fox said on March 24, adding that Connecticut courts have made a distinction between traditionally recognized forums for exercising first amendment rights versus pools, and that a municipality has the obligation to maintain pool site safety and preserve a pleasant atmosphere for its paying patrons.
“It is a proposal that allows guests of residents to visit the Byram Pool when accompanied by a season pass holder,” Siciliano said to the Selectmen on March 24. “As the Board of Selectmen, you can set any policy and any fee that you would like to.”
Selectman Marzullo had several questions about about expenses and revenue generated by the pool. He asked about comparisons to New Canaan which has a town swimming pool at Waveny Park. (In New Canaan the town sells a maximum of 100 non-resident seasonal pool passes at $1,150 each).
Mr. Siciliano said revenue from the Byram pool would come from swimming lessons, a new concession stand, and guest passes.
Byram Pool will have a 300 person maximum, including the splash pad, kiddie pool, and main pool. The maximum is set by the state of CT Health Dept.
“I think it’s our responsibility to make that judgement and not hold up the process,” Mr. Tesei said on March 24, adding that the Board of Selectmen can schedule a special meeting on the policy and fees.
On Wednesday, (March 30) at Parks & Rec board meeting, Mr. Siciliano again reviewed the proposed guest fees for Byram Park and Pool.
First, proposed fee for a guest to the beach/park and pool would be $8.00 for adults, with no charge for seniors or children under the age of 5. Second, for someone who is a valid resident who doesn’t want to buy a season pass, they can purchase a one-day pool/park pass for $8.00. Or, for $7.00 a resident can buy a day pass for just the park and beach (no pool).
“We’re going to recommend at some point, that the seasonal beach pass go up a few dollars and include the pool,” Mr. Siciliano said at the March 30 Parks & Rec board meeting. “So that when you buy your park pass, it includes the pool.”
This year the price of an adult park seasonal pass for 2016 is $33 for an adult.
Opening day of Greenwich Beach Concessions, 2016
• Greenwich Pt. (tentatively) May 1
• Byram Park concession to open Memorial Day
• Island beach concession to open 2nd Saturday of June
Supervising the New Deck at Tod’s Point North Concession
Beach season (for humans) is around the corner.
Thursday, March 31 is the last day dogs are allowed at Greenwich Point, and the concession stands are being readied for the new concessionaire, Carlos Hernandez who will call his concession What’s Cooking.
At the March Parks & Rec board meeting on March 30, there was discussion of signage for the new deck at the north concession stand. One goal is to politely ask beach-goers not to park themselves on the deck for their entire visit, but rather to eat and drink and move on.
Signage will remind guests that glass is not allowed on the deck (no glass is allowed at the beach anyway).
The deck is a public space and residents can bring their own food.
Alcohol is allowed at the beach and on the deck, but must be in plastic or cans. Signage will also remind guests not to leave their belongings on the tables or chairs.
Jeff Freitag, the Superintendent of Marine Facilities & Operations, said that the concessionaire, Mr. Hernandez, will ask his employees to clear off tables and chairs of belongings left behind, and put the chairs back in their places at the end of the day.
Parks & Rec director Joe Siciliano said the Greenwich Police presence should help in terms of smooth operation of the deck on days it’s crowded, and that there is a Memo of Understanding in the works with Greenwich Police. Nancy Caplan, chair of the Parks & Rec board, suggested inviting Police Chief Heavey to a board meeting.
Assistant Parks & Rec Director Thomas Greco said the number of beach passes issued so far for the 2016 season is between 5,000 to 6,000.
Mr. Greco said the overall number of seasonal beach cards has decreased somewhat over the past few years, but the online system has caught on, and about 80% of residents renew their passes online.
Mr. Freitag said the town is looking to hire summer life guards and hopes the increase in hourly wage will be an enticement. The wage was previously $9.25 and was bumped up to $10.50.
Freitag said there are 19 applicants so far, and that the Town lifeguard supervisor, Jen Hansen, has been reaching out to past lifeguards.
Around 35-40 lifeguards are needed each summer. Mr. Freitag said fewer young people are getting their life guard certification, which he said reflects concerns about exposure to sun. Also, he said, lifeguards are not allowed have their phones when they’re in the lifeguard chair. Rather, they have to leave phones in the lifeguard station.
Filling all lifeguard openings could become an even greater challenge when the Byram Pool is complete as it will likely require five guards on the deck instead of two at the old pool. The reason is that an ADA compliant pool is by definition a big pool.
Specifically, the pool will be a “zero entry” pool, which means it is possible to walk from the pool deck to the pool’s full depth of 5.5 ft without steps or a ladder. The bigger the pool, the more the lifeguards.
The good news is that all the boat crew – 9 or 10 people – have been hired.
Back in January, the Selectmen voted to approve a 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.
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 back in January.
The hike means a daily car parking for non-card holders rises from $25 to $35, a day pass rises from $6 to $7, and an adult season pass rises from $32 to $33.