Barrington Beach-goers will pay a higher fee this summer. And senior citizens will pay to use the beach for the first time.
The Town Council approved on Monday night a recommendation from the Parks and Recreation Commission to raise the beach-pass fee from $20 to $30. The vote was 4-1 with Bill DeWitt casting the dissenting vote.
The town councilors then went one step further and set a $10 fee for anyone over the age of 65 to use the beach. The vote was 3-2 with Town Council President June Speakman and DeWitt voting against the motion.
“It seems to me that $30 is a pretty good deal,” said Speakman in supporting the boost from $20.
“I think they (seniors) should pay something,” said Town Council Vice President Jeff Brenner, who actually suggested a $15 fee for seniors – half the cost of the beach pass for everyone else.
The recreation commission recommended the first increase in the beach-pass fee since 2008 because it expects the cost of maintenance will increase this year with a new bathhouse and other improvements to the beach.
Ed McKinlay, vice chairman of the commission, said: “It seems proper at this time to raise the fee.”
The commission voted not to charge seniors to use the beach in the same recommendation to hike the fee to $30.
Town Manager Peter DeAngelis Jr. said the Town Council needed to look at the beach-fee boost entirely as a revenue generator, even though “I suspect the cost of maintenance will increase slightly.”
“We will maintain the beach no matter what,” he said. “This is an issue on the revenue side of the budget.”
DeWitt said he opposed the increase because taxpayers already paid to build a new bathhouse.
“It was built with no intention of raising fees,” he said.
Recreation Director John Taylor said the new revenue from the fee increase can be used to build more beach programs.
“I’m trying to add more activities at the beach,” he said.
DeAngelis said he expects the beach “to be a better product this year” with the addition of more activities.
DeWitt suggested giving the beach a year to prove it is a better product.
“I am hesitant to say we have a better product without a year of experience,” he said.
It only took a minute or so after the Town Council voted to boost the beach fee that Brenner suggested the senior fee. McKinlay said the Parks and Recreation Commission supported keeping the senior fee at zero.