Cuts to beach fees take effect Friday; applauded by lawmaker

Third Beach Road in Middletown runs along one of the state's most scenic beaches to Sachuest Point Wildlife Refuge. The Providence Journal/Peter C.T. Elsworth

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Whether catching a wave or catching rays on the sand, a trip to the beach in Rhode Island will cost less this summer when it comes to parking fees.

After House lawmakers called for beach parking pass rates to be cut in half as part of the budget for the 2016-2017 fiscal year, South County state Sen. James C. Sheehan (representing Narragansett and North Kingstown) said Tuesday the communities around the beaches stand to benefit. “They rely on these funds, since they’re the ones who provide the beaches with municipal services, such as police, fire and rescue,” Sheehan said. And less money spent on parking can go to eating out, souvenirs and so forth.

Gov. Lincoln Chafee had called for hiking the fees back in his 2011 budget proposal, to add an estimated $1.3 million to state coffers, State House officials said in a release Tuesday.

As daily fees went up, more people sprang for season passes. A portion of the money for daily passes is shared with the communities, while season pass revenue is not.

Now, single car day passes will be $6 on weekdays, $7 on weekends, and $30 for the season, with non-residents paying double those fees.

Tuesday, the Department of Environmental Management (DEM)’s Gail Mastrati said they’ve seen a drop in the number of season passes this year. So far, about 7,500 have been sold, which is about 500 fewer than last year at this time, she said.

Credits for early season-pass buyers

If you bought a seasonal parking pass after May 17, 2016, or before June 30, you can apply to get a credit on the amount you overpaid. It’ll be given in a gift certificate that you can use toward the purchase of a future season beach pass. Pass holders must send their name, mailing address, phone number and email address, along with a copy of the registration associated with the 2016 season beach pass, and the 2016 season beach pass number and type, to the DEM. You should also indicate if you wish your certificate to be delivered or if you’re willing to pick up at the DEM’s headquarters. By email, send your application to dem.riparks@dem.ri.gov or by postal mail to DEM Rhode Island State Parks Headquarters, Attention: Beach Pass Credit, 1100 Tower Hill Road, North Kingstown, RI 02852. Applications must be sent between July 9, 2016 and September 15, 2016. Allow 2 days for processing.

Daily passes purchased during the May 17-June 30 period will not receive a credit.

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