Surfing the waters in Narragansett, eating clam cakes and clam chowder and spending a summer day at the beach are what many believe make Rhode Island what is it.
Yet, with Gov. Chafee’s proposal to double beach parking fees looming, many Rhode Islanders feel the price increase will only take away from what made this state the Ocean State.
To close a projected $331 million deficit, Gov. Chafee has proposed raising parking fees for state beaches for residents and nonresidents beginning July 1 if the General Assembly approves his budget. State beaches that will be affected include Scarborough, Salty Brine, East Matunuck, Roger Wheeler and Misquamicut.
According to Chafee’s plan, season passes would double, from $30 to $60 for residents and $60 to $120 for non-residents. Weekend daily parking would increase from $7 to $15 for residents and from $14 to $25 for non-residents. The fees for state beaches have not been raised since 2002.
“We have concern regarding any increase to beaches that would alter visitors ability to come to South County. It will give people a reason to look at other areas to visit,” Myrna George, president of South County Tourism Council said.
Many beach lovers think the rise in beach parking fees is too much to ask and that the taxes will only take away from what once made Rhode Island so special.
“I think it’s too much. That’s a lot of money for people who are just making ends meet. They want to come down here to enjoy the beach and they’ll have to pay all that money, that’s a shame,” Jim Prior said as he walked along Roger Wheeler State Beach.
As she walked her dog along East Matunuck State Beach, Hali LaFountain said she strongly disagreed with the governor’s proposal.
“It’s our only benefit for living in this area. We already pay high taxes and to raise them more is astronomical. To pay that much would hurt all of our pockets,” LaFountain said.
As he walked along walked along Scarborough State Beach using his metal detector, one longtime Narragansett fisherman said the rise in beach fees will take away what makes Rhode Island the Ocean State.
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