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NARRAGANSETT, R.I. — The post-holiday dead of winter is typically when Narragansett sets its town beach fees for next summer, locking in the rates for seasonal passes for residents as well as daily general admission and parking.  

With the prices of everything from homes to groceries on the rise, the town delivered a bit of good news Monday for beach-goers.

This year, the Town Council opted to keep the rates unchanged from last year. The council also removed parking restrictions at the North and Cabana parking lots, which were reserved for residents and taxpayers in 2021. It means that all parking lots at Narragansett Town Beach will be open after 5 p.m. with no restriction.

Daily admission will remain at $12, and parking will stay at $10 on weekdays, $15 on weekends and holidays.

“Basically no increase in walk-on or parking fees,” Council President Jesse Pugh said. “And all the parking lots will be open to the general public after 5 p.m.”

Season passes for residents and taxpayers are $25 for adults, $10 for youth, and $50 for parking. Admission is free for seniors 62 and older and Narragansett disabled veterans and active military personnel.

The town beach is designed to be self-sustaining – that is, able to operate without any additional burden on taxpayers. Fees are designed to not only cover annual operating expenses, but also pay for long-term projects such as building renovations, parking lot repairs and replacements, sand replenishment and addressing storm damage and erosion.

“The beach fees do not affect taxes,” Pugh said. “If we increase the fees it does not lower anyone’s taxes.”

The revenues and expenditures from the beach form the basis of the Beach Enterprise Fund, which fully pays for the operations and capital costs of the beach without support from the town’s general fund.

Town Parks and Recreation Director Michelle Kershaw reviewed the Beach Enterprise Fund for the past four years and financial report for the 2021 beach season. She said there has been a 12 percent loss in revenue, with a net gain of $259,680.

At a Nov. 15 beach workshop, the council agreed that the Beach Enterprise Fund remains healthy and that there was no need to increase the fees.

The council also had a lengthy discussion at the time over the fees charged for renting lockers and cabanas, but kept them as-is when there was no clear direction about what to do, Pugh said.

Resident Catherine Celeberto said she doesn’t think the North and Cabana lots should be opened to all after 5 p.m., but kept reserved for residents.

“People in this town work. They can’t get to the beach before 5 o’clock,” she said. “There’s been a shift from Scarborough and Sand Hill Cove to the town beach. I don’t think it’s fair that a taxpayer who works has to fight with people who don’t live here and don’t pay any taxes at all to get onto their own beach. You have to keep some section aside for the residents.”  

Resident Al Alba said fees should be kept level if the current revenues can sustain the beach.

“Let’s face it, the beaches bring in a lot of tourists,” he said. “The beach brings taxpayer dollars to us. People don’t just go to the beach, they go to restaurants and stores. That’s income coming in.”

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