Southampton Village likely to hike beach parking fees again

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Visitors to Southampton Village will likely pay more to park at the beach this summer, as the Village Board reached a consensus Tuesday evening that parking at Coopers Beach on a Saturday or Sunday should cost $50, up from $40, and a summer-long pass for visitors should be $400, up from $350.

Also, another beach parking area, in addition to Dune Beach, may be designated “residents only,” because village trustees said they received complaints from their constituents that parking lots are frequently full with visitors’ cars. Either the Little Plains Road or Wyandanch Lane parking areas may be made exclusive to residents.

The new prices and restrictions have not yet been adopted, so the prices are not set in stone and may still be revised before adoption.

Village Board member Paul Robinson, who also successfully pushed to raise the fees last year, proposed the increases. He said it will grant relief to village taxpayers by generating revenue for the village coffers from visitors who come from points west and out of state.

Mr. Robinson said $50 a day to park at Coopers would be reasonable, considering how much a family in Patchogue Village pays for a ferry ride to Fire Island. An adult round trip on the Davis Park ferry was $16 in 2008, and a round-trip ticket for a child was $10.50, making a trip to the beach $53 for a family of four.

Mr. Robinson pointed out that last year, Dr. Stephen P. Leatherman, also known as “Dr. Beach,” ranked Coopers the fourth best beach in the United States. Coopers was ahead of East Hampton’s Main Beach, which was ranked sixth, he added.

“I think sometimes people don’t realize the value of things and they don’t price correctly because of that,” Mr. Robinson said.

Other board members, including Richard Yastrzemski, were wary of taking the increases too far. He said he does not want to price gouge or have the village be perceived as uninviting.

“We’re printing our own money with the beach so far,” Mr. Yastrzemski said. “Let’s not get greedy.”

Parking passes will continue to be free for Southampton Village homeowners and year-round residents. “Non-residents”—year-round residents of the Southampton School District or Southampton Fire District who live outside the village—will continue to pay $200 per car for a summer parking pass.

The board also decided to reinstate a senior discount for non-residents and introduced a discount for veterans. Veterans and seniors will receive 25 percent off their first parking sticker, but must pay the full $200 for any additional stickers they purchase. Discounted stickers will be available only at Village Hall with proof of age or military service and will not be for sale at Coopers Beach.

Non-resident permits cost $175 in 2007, but the Village Board voted last year to bump up the price by $25.

Nearly 1,000 non-resident 
permits were sold in 2008, raking in $200,000 for the village.

There will be no discounts offered for summer visitor or daily passes.

The village collected $231,000 selling daily passes to Coopers Beach in 2008. Day passes to Coopers Beach on weekdays cost $40. Two summers ago, they cost $30 and weekend passes were $35.

The village also took in $165,000 in 2008 selling 471 parking permits to summer visitors. That was up 38 over how many sold in 2007, despite a $100 price hike.

Apparently, summer visitors did not bat an eye at the $100 increase in 2008, according to Southampton Village Deputy Clerk Eileen Musarra. “People come in and they buy four summer permits at a clip,” she said.

The board also discussed Tuesday putting a limit on how many non-resident and visitor passes they sell, as East Hampton Village does, but did not adopt a cap. Ms. Musarra said East Hampton sells out of its parking passes every year shortly after they go on sale. “They want what they can’t have,” she said.

“It creates a sense of urgency,” Village Board member Nancy McGann agreed.

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