Stamford Advocate

Board of Reps panel weighs costs of free beach access

Parks & Recreation Committee holds preliminar­y discussion on idea

- By Brianna Gurciullo

STAMFORD — If you live in Stamford and your car is registered in the city, should you be allowed to park at the beaches for free?

The Board of Representa­tives’ Parks and Recreation Committee held a preliminar­y discussion about the idea, which was put forward by city Reps. Megan Cottrell, D-4, and John Zelinsky, D-11.

“Over the years serving on the board, my own constituen­ts and even other people in the city of Stamford (have) always complained about having to pay for a beach sticker,” Zelinsky said at the meeting Tuesday evening. “They felt that their taxes were high enough and that they should be able to do this. I attempted to look into it over the years, but (it) never came to fruition.”

Zelinsky said he recently learned about Norwalk’s beach pass policy. Residents there can park at beaches for free if their car is registered in Norwalk and their plate number is in a city system, said Ken Hughes,

superinten­dent of parks and public property who spoke to The Stamford Advocate on Wednesday.

And Cottrell noted during Tuesday’s committee meeting that cars registered in Connecticu­t can park for free at state parks. Instead of paying a parking fee, car owners pay a required $5 per year fee through their car registrati­ons with the state.

Cottrell said she believes that Stamford residents should be able to park at city beaches without charge — but only if their car is registered in Stamford.

“I personally like the idea of having this be sort of an incentive to have your vehicle registered in Stamford and to be on our tax rolls in Stamford,” she said. “This is a perk that you have as a person who is paying taxes on your car in the city of Stamford. Much in the way the state of Connecticu­t, if your vehicle is registered in Connecticu­t, then as a perk of paying for your registrati­on in Connecticu­t, you get free access to our state parks. That's how I envision it.”

But as committee members and city officials discussed the idea Tuesday, questions and concerns were raised about the potential effects on city revenue, the costs of implementa­tion and how soon a change could be made.

Whatever the Parks and Recreation Committee considers will likely come in the form of a resolution, rather than an ordinance.

“Resolution­s are designed to be changed over the course of time if necessary, and that is an easier process than changing an ordinance,” city attorney Dana Lee told the panel. “So the reason why I think Reps. Zelinsky and Cottrell were thinking of this as a resolution was to see what the impact would be. If the resolution were passed, what would the loss of revenue be? What would be the impact on parking at these beaches? And if there was evidence and sufficient informatio­n that the resolution at the end of the day did more harm than good, the resolution could be easily repealed.”

Lee also noted that the resolution as currently envisioned would apply not only to beaches but also to city parks where parking permits are required.

In Stamford, a seasonal parking permit costs $26.59 for a resident whose car is registered in the city, with sales tax included. A senior resident with a car registered in Stamford pays $7.44.

Residents whose cars aren’t registered in Stamford pay more. A resident who is under 62 years old and has a car registered outside of the city pays $116.99. A senior resident who has a car registered in another city pays $37.22.

A seasonal pass for a nonresiden­t costs $292.46.

For a daily pass, a person with a car registered in Stamford pays $26.50. Everyone else pays $42.50 on a weekday or $69 on a weekend or holiday.

 ?? Christian Abraham / Hearst Connecticu­t Media file photo ?? Residents enjoy Cummings Beach in Stamford on May 26.
Christian Abraham / Hearst Connecticu­t Media file photo Residents enjoy Cummings Beach in Stamford on May 26.

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