Parks board balks at issuing more out-of-town Compo permits
Published 12:05 pm, Friday, May 23, 2014
There won't be more out-of-towner parking permits issued for Compo Beach this season.
Despite the Parks and Recreation Commission chairman's proposal to increase the number of those permits, the full board declined this week to make any changes in the existing policy.
"I'm recommending that we go from 350 to 400," Chairman Charles Haberstroh said at Wednesday's meeting, adding that he felt last year's increase from 300 to 350 out-of-town permits may not have been handled properly.
"My problem with that is I didn't see that process was very transparent," he said. "I don't know what the notification was on that and I don't know that people knew that it was increased from 300 to 350."
He noted that the department had received a number of calls earlier this year about the availability of out-of-town permits, but since they would have exceeded the 350 limit, they were turned away.
Haberstroh said that since "the season" had really yet to begin -- the Memorial Day weekend traditionally is considered the start to the beach season -- it would not be too late to sell more.
"It would increase the revenue," he said. While standard resident parking emblems go for $35, out-of-town stickers go for $425 for Compo on weekends, although residents of neighboring Weston can obtain permits for $220.
"I'm sure we could sell another 50 if we wanted to do," Haberstroh said. "This is a much better way, in my opinion, to control who comes into the beach, and it's a much less staff-intensive and it's still before the season."
"We can always cut back next year, (and) I would rather have the people with stickers than the dailies, just from a manpower point of view," he said.
But other parks and recreation staffers disagreed.
"The truth is we are in season," said Karen Foster, the department's program manager, who said policies can't be changed as new information is coming in. "I think it's better to review it come October or November."
"Unfortunately there are times when we have to say no," she said. "Yes, we turned people away, (but) moving forward I don't think it's that much of an issue."
"I would agree with Karen," said Dan DeVito, parks and recreations' operations supervisor.
He said that since the town implemented credit-card payment at the front gate at Compo Beach, more out-of-towners who lack permits are willing to pay the $50 daily fee.
"Normally they would turn around and leave, but now they're staying and putting it on the credit card," he said.
Resident Lisa Parrelli-Gray spoke in favor of issuing more out-of-town stickers. "I learned the day after Labor Day that you can start putting your name on a list ... That's not on the website."
"The process needs to be clear as well, it needs to be a lot more transparent than it is today," she said.
Commissioner Andy Moss, who also is the chairman of the Compo Beach Site Improvement Committee, noted that some residents have expressed concern over out-of-town visitors taking up too many parking spots at the beach.
"There has been a fairly strong push back about people feeling they don't get enough spots, or they don't get the spots they want," he said, suggesting that offering a lower number "isn't necessarily a bad thing."
"What about the people we turned away?" Commissioner Stuart Rogan asked. "Would we be able to contact them again?"
Giunta said no since no records were kept of people interested in permits after the 350 limit was reached.
"All those folks that we told no, come back next year, they're done for this year," he said.
The motion to allocate more permits was defeated by a 3-1 vote, with Haberstroh the only member in support.