Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Fees and Access

This time of year unfortunately brings restrictions and fees to many coastal access areas of Long Island Sound. I have little problem with a modest fee to park a car or enter a park, especially when it appears that the money is used to maintain the property. But fees do destroy the spontaneity of simply stopping by for 20 minutes or an hour. A walk along the beach after work or having your lunch at a waterfront park becomes less practical. A bigger issue I have is with beaches and parks that are open to residents only. This is done in many underhanded ways. Oftentimes the beach is open to everyone, but a resident pass is needed to park a car. Other times the fees for a non-resident are outrageously high. A third, more cynical policy is to require visitors to purchase a non-resident pass at the town hall that is only open from 9am to 4pm on weekdays. The beach and the town hall are usually miles apart. Originally these restrictions were only in place in a few exclusive enclaves that bordered larger urban areas. Now, residency requirements are quite common on both shores. In some cases I understand the need for them; but other times they disgust me. The argument is usually that residents pay the taxes to support the park, therefor access should be limited to them. What these residents usually ignore is the fact that they use the services and infrastructure of other municipalities without similar restrictions (imagine if every resident of Greenwich or Great Neck had to go to city hall before they could enter Central Park). What is one to do? The state parks are open to all for a modest fee, but they are often crowded on summer weekends. There are also very few state (or county) parks in the western end of the Sound. Most of the places I have written about include a link that will provide information about access and fees. Also, if you have any questions about a particular place, you can email me and I will do my best to assist. Unfortunately, if you email me on a Thursday night, I may not be able to respond by Saturday morning. It may take me a week to respond. That brings up another subject. As some of my regular visitors have already noticed, my pattern for posting has changed drastically. For most of the winter months, I posted two or three times a week. My schedule has changed and I presently have limited access to a computer (no internet access on the boat). I still hope to put together a similar number of posts each month, but they will come in bunches, followed by a week or so with no entries. The same holds true for the blogs and sites I visit. I may not comment regularly, but I am still checking in every ten days or so to see what you have posted. Connecticut Coastal Access Guide New York State Parks: Long Island Westchester County Parks New York City Parks Rhode Island State Parks


Unknown said...

Oh you hit a raw never! Growing up in Texas where beaches CAN NOT be blocked, it came to a rude surprise to know there were private beaches up in CT. I hated it when I first came up, I hate it now.

kate said...

You bring up so so many good points. I am one of those people who benefits from a great deal as far as local access goes. Because I'm a resident I can purchase a $20 sticker to get me into Crane Beach in Ipswich, MA for the WHOLE year. Being as it's one of the most beautiful beaches in New England that's an insane deal, when most people pay $30 A DAY, or half that if you're a Trustees of Reservations member.

I have mixed feelings over the whole thing. I know those fees almost completely sustain the whole Trustees organization which protects 25,000 acres in Massachusetts. But I wish there was universal land access right down to the waterfront for all bodies of water, public and fresh. My neighbor has a right of way through his lawn to the Ipswich River and he gladly lets anyone and everyone drag canoes past his hydrangeas whenever they want. Hats off to him.

Excellent post, glad you brought this issue up. Have a blast living on your boat! So jealous! -kate

Carol said...

I used to travel to Long Island several years ago. Trailering harness horses into Roosevelt Raceway.(it's probably a mall by now). It's nice to see the other side.

We have a small trawler that we spend time on. On the St Johns River, FL. Putting in tomorrow. I am going to be following your blog to hear about your life aboard.

Larry said...

I find it hard to keep up a pace of more than once a week anyway.I get discouraged when I can't get access to the sound.

Unknown said...

Agree! California and Texas both have a public coastline and access.

Good points! Also, my sister lives in Topsfield and I have been to Crane
Beach several times. It is a beautiful spot.

I have a love-hate relationship with Long Island. The mass suburbia I cannot stand, but then again, it gets a bad rap, and there are many beautiful villages and harbors that get overlooked in the stereotype. Welcome!!!

I know exactly how you feel Larry.