Greenwich Point Beach Isn't as Nice as Greenwich Seems to Think
Now, thanks to the Greenwich Time, they know the policy is working and they know that at least one elected official in Greenwich is happy about it.
They also know that if you dare enter a Greenwich beach without paying, the police will treat you like public enemy number one and set up road block to stop you from getting out -- even if you're a 75-year-old man on a bike.
Greenwich used to have a policy of not letting anyone on its beaches who didn't live in town. Then Brenden Leydon of Stamford sued and won, and the courts told Greenwich that it could no longer keep non-residents out.
So Greenwich officials decided they'd charge $25 a day to park at the beach and $10 a person to enter. For a family of five, that's obviously $75 for a day at the beach. As if that's not onerous enough, you have to buy your permits to enter and park at Town Hall, which is not near any of the beaches. So even if you feel like laying out $75, you have to deal with downtown traffic and a Town Hall bureaucrat. Who'd bother?
The Greenwich Time looked at the non-resident attendance and found that the number of people who would bother has been declining annually: 11,081 out of towners in 2002, 8,200 in 2003, and 7,740 last year.
A Selectman with the name Peter Crumbine could not be happier:
"I think things have turned out better than expected. There has not been a flood of people wanting to get into our beach."
The beach policies so happily accepts have prompted at least one case of civil disobedience. From the Greenwich Time:
On June 8, [Paul] Kempner, a 75-year-old retiree, disobeyed a gatekeeper's orders to the pay the fee and entered the beach, police said, who were waiting for the cyclist at the beach's entrance when he exited.
"The police car was there blocking the road like I was some thief," said Kempner, who said he would plead not guilty when he appears in state Superior Court in Stamford on Aug. 24 on the infraction, which carries a $92 fine.
Kempner said he would use the incident to shed light on the town's beach fees, which he described as a costly impediment to his free speech rights.
"It's just prohibitive price-wise," he said. "For me to go in every day is $70 every week. I can't do that."
Here's how a few other Connecticut towns handle beach fees for out of towners (all this is from the local governments' web sites):
West Haven: Admission is free but parking for non-residents is available for a $10 daily fee at Morse Park and Sandy Point, while Oak Street, Rock Street and Bradley Point require a $10 daily fee or a $5 fee after 4 p.m.
Milford: Non Residents pay $5 per day to the parking attendant at either Gulf Beach or Walnut Beach.
Stratford: Beach Stickers for non-residents are $100/season or $10/day for Long Beach, and $5.00 for a daily pass at Short Beach.
Westport: $15 per car on weekdays and $30 on weekends for Compo.
The Greenwich Time story implies that Kempner might sue. A lawyer used the term "grudging compliance" to characterize Greenwich's reaction to its loss in court. I hope Kempner does sue and I hope he wins.
But Crumbine and the others who want to keep unelect out might think about another reason out-of-town attendance has fallen: Greenwich Point isn't that great.
True, it's nice in winter -- in fact that photo at the top of this page was taken there on New Year's Day. But I've also been to Compo in Westport, and the beach there is better than the one at Greenwich Point. And Westport residents don't mind sharing it with the unwashed out of towners.