NARRAGANSETT – Admission and parking rates for Narragansett Town Beach will not change next year, with the Narragansett Town Council recently approving the beach’s fee structure with no modifications to current rates, prices, passes and/or policies. The recommendation for no change came from Narragansett Parks and Recreation Director Steve Wright, who stated the town enjoyed a successful year at the beach this past summer.
“I think we had a very successful season in 2019,” he said at a town council meeting on Nov. 18. “The [parks and recreation] department, as well as the [town] recreation advisory board are moving forward and asking to move forward for 2020 with no changes in our fees or policies.”
Starting June 10 and continuing through Labor Day, the town begins to charge for daily admission to Narragansett Town Beach. Daily admission is $10 per-person per-day, while parking is $10 per vehicle during the week and $15 per vehicle on weekends and holidays. Seasonal admission passes are available only to residents and commercial businesses. Adult residents pay $25 for a seasonal admissions pass, youth residents pay $10 and $75 gets a resident a transferrable admission pass. Commercial transferrable passes are $200 each. Resident seasonal parking passes are $50. Finally, children under the age of 11, resident seniors, disabled resident veterans and active duty military members attend for free.
In 2017, the town made sweeping changes to its beach policies and admission rates in an effort to make the town beach more resident-friendly, following extensive feedback from residents that the popular summer destination had become overcrowded and not enjoyable. These measures included raising daily admission rates from $8 to $10 per-person and doing away with all non-resident admission passes with the exception of commercial passes. The change, it seems, worked as intended, with complaints going down and revenue remaining steady, and even increasing this year. This past summer, the beach generated nearly $1 million in daily admission alone, taking in a total of $975,328, a recent high for the town. According to the parks and recreation department, which oversees the town beach, the total department payroll for beach operations this year was $520,217.
Resident Stanley Wojciechowski petitioned the council to raise daily beach admission, stating if taxes were going up, the town should compensate by increasing the price to get onto the beach.
“I think there should be an increase in fees,” he said. “If there’s an increase in taxes, there should be an increase in fees. Everybody is used to seeing the cost of living increase in everything they buy and everywhere they go.”
Wojciechowksi also targeted the policy admitting resident seniors onto the beach for free, stating that Narragansett seniors were typically “very rich” and “didn’t need to go to the beach for free.”
“I think they oughta pay their fair share like everyone else,” he said. “It’s a nice gesture and I understand what you’re doing but then some family has to pay more in taxes, so I don’t know.”
After, councilor Richard Lema pointed out that the Narragansett Town Beach operates as an enterprise fund, meaning money generated by the beach stays within the beach budget and does not affect the Town’s tax rate.
While no changes were proposed for beach fees, Wright did note the department and recreation advisory board were considering opening the beach an hour earlier on weekends and holidays, from 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., in order to address early beach-goers parking in public spots near the beach and foregoing both admission and parking fees.
“We’re going to make a recommendation in December to change our hours on weekends and holidays and open an hour early and charge from 7:30 in the morning, instead of 8:30, until 6 o’clock at night,” he said. “So we’ll have lifeguards on duty from 7:30 a.m. until 6 p.m. instead of 8:30 a.m. until 6 p.m.”
“It was brought to our attention numerous times to think about, particularly on weekends when we have a lot of folks park along the sea wall and half of our beach is full before we even open up at 8:30 a.m.,” Wright continued upon questions from councilors Jesse Pugh and Patrick Murray. “We want to try that. We talked about that at length and we’re going to bring that before you to discuss and possibly use that as a pilot program for next year.”
The move would require council approval.
Council president pro tem Jill Lawler agreed with the proposal, stating she heard complaints about the beach being “jammed up” in the summer months an hour or so before admission began being charged.
The town council is expected to entertain the proposal at its meeting in December.