Officials preparing for incoming beach season
Wednesday’s vernal equinox is bringing more than Spring Fever to officials throughout southwestern Connecticut.
With miles of municipal and state-run beaches and parks under their control, officials are already looking forward to summer
“It is spring, but just recently (we) reached out to our lifeguards —who most are away at colleges — seeing what their next step is and if they are going to come back with us,” said Rich Minnix, program supervisor at the Milford Recreation department.
The city-run Walnut Beach saw 150 cars stopping into the site daily, Minnix said, and the beach fielded roughtly 30 lifeguards last summer, and he expected summer 2019 to be the same.
Also the same — the cost to beachgoers looking for sun, sand and satisfaction — and the chance to fish from the pier, gather at the Devon Rotary Pavilion or stake out nearby picnic benches with canopies.
Last year, the city charged a $15, cash-only fee to nonresidents at Walnut Beach. Milford residents visit for free.
“We get people coming from as far as New York to come visit our Walnut Beach venue here,” Minnix said.
Connecticut continues to draw both residents and visitors from neighboring states to its trove of waterfront sites along Long Island Sound, drumming up revenue in the process.
Local beaches have differing rules. Silver Sands State Park in Milford, for instance, is free to cars with Connecticut marker plates. Outstaters pay a fee.
Bridgeport’s Seaside Park has also been a destination for visitors looking for fun in the sun, offering several playgrounds, a splash pad, skate park, concession stand and a bathhouse for $30 on weekdays and $40 on weekends and holidays to non-residents.
Pleasure Beach in Bridgeport, however, is free to all willing to take one of the two water taxis across the Sound.
In Fairfield, residents can take their pick from six beaches, with two — Jennings and Pennfield — open to nonresidents.
“There’s a daily fee, but we find that most people just buy the season pass,” said Anthony Calabrese, director of parks and recreation in Fairfield.
Non-residents can buy season passes for $200, a $25 increase from last year, while residents can pick up an all-inclusive $25 pass honored at all six beaches.
Fairfield saw well over 100,000 visitors last year, Calabrese said. The town sold about 30,000 resident passes and 1,700 nonresident passes, adding up to $750,000 and roughly $298,000 in revenue respectively.
“We did get some New Yorkers who are coming down the line because they are finding the other towns’ rates are even higher than ours, especially in Westport and Greenwich, so we are more than happy to have them at our beaches,” he said.
Compo Beach in Westport charged non-residents and residents without stickers $40 on weekdays and $65 on weekends and holidays for access to the 29-acre park. Entrance is limited to the first 100 guests.
Greenwich beaches are even more exclusive if you don’t live there. Passes cannot be purchased at the beach.
Daily parking passes are $35, and they must be purchased in advance at either Eastern Greenwich Civic or Bendheim Western Greenwich Civic centers.