Should Sandy Hook raise parking fees? It’s up to you!
The National Park service is thinking about raising the daily parking fee at Sandy Hook from $15 to $20 and the season pass from $75 to $100. Oversize vehicles would pay $50 daily or $200 per season.
But first, the feds want your two cents.
National Park Service personnel will be positioned at the Gunnison Beach plaza this Friday and at Lot D on Saturday, Aug. 20, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. both days. There will also be an open house at the Sandy Chapel on Wednesday, Aug. 31 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
"We need public support to increase fees," National Park Service spokeswoman Daphne Yun said of the process, which includes information and public opinion as part of a package presented to the NPS regional office and then to their national headquarters in Washington, D.C., for a final decision. The increase, if approved, would be in place for next season.
Where the money goes
Yun said that 80 percent of fees collected stay with the Gateway Recreation Area to fund future projects and for visitor services and amenities.
"There is going to be a rehab of the lighthouse which starting this fall, making oral histories available to the public. (The projects) have to be something the visitors see. We wouldn't use it to pay for a staff person," Yun said.
The fees have also paid for repairs to Sandy Hook's historic sea wall, the use of the camping website recreation.gov, the purchase of surf boats, the fiber optics system and the multi-use path.
Fighting higher fees
It would be the second increase in five years, according to U.S. Rep Frank Pallone, D-N.J., who fought a larger increase sought by the Parks Service at the time in 2012.
The Democrat is concerned that an increase would make the Monmouth County beach unaffordable.
"Sandy Hook is a treasure along the New Jersey shore that should remain affordable for anyone who wants to visit, regardless of his or her economic situation," Pallone wrote on his Facebook page.
The park charges for vehicles to enter, but unlike most other local beaches along the Jersey Shore people can walk to bicycle in for free.
In a letter to NPS Director Jonathan B. Jarvis, Pallone requested a meeting to clarify if the money collected as part of a fee increase would be used exclusively at Sandy Hook.
Yun said fees are shared among all of Gateway's other facilities including the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge, Fort Tilden, Riis Park in Queens; Floyd Bennett Field and Canarsie Pier in Brooklyn; and Great Kills Park, Miller Field and Fort Wadsworth in Staten Island.
Can't make it to the beach? Feedback on the increase will be accepted via email at Gateway_Fee_Increase@nps.gov or at the following address:
Office of the Superintendent
Gateway National Recreation Area
ATTN: Proposed parking fee increase
210 New York Avenue
Staten Island, New York 10305.
Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com