Beach park­ing rev­enue in­creases de­spite price hikes

The Norwalk Hour - - TOWN NEWS - By So­phie Vaughan [email protected]­medi­; 203-842-2638; @So­phieCVaughan1

WEST­PORT — The elas­tic­ity of sup­ply and de­mand is dif­fi­cult to pre­dict, but the Parks and Recre­ation De­part­ment did a pretty good job as data from this past sum­mer at Compo Beach shows the rev­enue in­creased, de­spite price hikes.

“The town was able to im­prove con­di­tions at Compo Beach and grow rev­enue at the same time,” the ad­vo­cacy group Friends of Compo Beach wrote in an email to the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s sup­port­ers.

Over­all rev­enue in­creased 3 per­cent from the 2017 beach sea­son, grow­ing from $1,465,262 in 2017 to $1,509,611 in 2018, ac­cord­ing to data pro­vided by the Parks and Recre­ation De­part­ment.

“Given we had no clue what would ac­tu­ally hap­pen when we raised prices, the fact that we were re­ally close is amaz­ing,” said Parks and Recre­ation Com­mis­sion Chair­man Char­lie Haber­stroh.

A year ago, the com­mis­sion and town’s Board of Select­men voted to in­crease the price of park­ing at Compo for out-of-town res­i­dents roughly 50 per­cent, af­ter a slew of com­plaints from res­i­dents about beach con­di­tions dur­ing the 2017 sum­mer beach sea­son.

Last fall, a group of res­i­dents led by Leslie Gal­lant, Ger­a­lyn Breig and Nick Sadler formed Friends of Compo Beach with the goal of lob­by­ing the town to re­duce crowd sizes at Compo, en­force rules for pub­lic be­hav­ior, and en­sure park­ing for res­i­dents, among other goals.

The price of sea­sonal beach park­ing prices for non­res­i­dents in­creased from $490 in 2017 to $775 in 2018, and the num­ber of sea­sonal park­ing passes al­lowed for non­res­i­dents was capped at 340, down from 600 passes in 2017. Ad­di­tion­ally, daily park­ing passes for res­i­dents and non­res­i­dents in­creased from $30 to $40 on week­days and $50 to $65 on the week­ends and were capped at 100 per day.

“We be­lieve the res­i­dents were heard and Parks and Rec suc­cess­fully ex­e­cuted a plan that re­stored the qual­ity of life con­di­tions at Compo Beach . ... A safer, cleaner en­vi­ron­ment was re­stored,” Friends of Compo Beach wrote in the email.

The in­crease in rev­enue oc­curred de­spite a rev­enue de­crease in sales to out-oftown­ers. Last year the parks de­part­ments sold 537 park­ing passes, while that num­ber de­creased to 335 this year. Daily park­ing passes de­creased sig­nif­i­cantly from 8,045 passes sold in 2017 to 4,942 passes this past sum­mer, which trans­lated to a de­crease of $76,470 in rev­enue from daily passes from 2017 to 2018.

“It was a pretty sig­nif­i­cant drop. We think the drop was be­cause the weather wasn’t great on week­ends, which is when peo­ple come for the day, and also the higher fee may have caused peo­ple not to come on a daily ba­sis,” Haber­stroh said.

Sea­sonal park­ing passes for res­i­dents de­creased slightly, from 16,830 passes sold to res­i­dents in 2017 to 16,188 passes sold to res­i­dents this past sum­mer.

Whether the same prices will con­tinue into the up­com­ing beach sea­son is still to be de­ter­mined, Haber­stroh said, not­ing his com­mis­sion will re­view the im­pact of last year’s changes and make a de­ci­sion for the com­ing sum­mer prices in Fe­bru­ary.

Erik Traut­mann / Hearst Con­necti­cut Me­dia

Beach­go­ers have lunch un­der the pav­il­lion and partly cloudy skies at Compo Beach on May 10.

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