Friday, March 28, 2003
State park will charge for parking
If you are planning to drive to Great Brook State Park this year, be prepared to pay a $2 parking fee or $35 for a season pass. Park superintendent Ray Faucher, speaking at the conservation breakfast earlier this month, said the new fees have been talked about for four to five years at the state level and will go into effect this spring. The season pass is good at all state parks. Foucher stated that walkers and bikers will continue to use park facilities without a charge.
Parking tickets may be purchased when the vehicle drives in, and season tickets may be purchased at either the main gate or the park office. Season passes will be "just like a dump sticker" in that they are attached to the vehicle, but must be placed there by a park ranger. The $2 for single day parking can be put in an "iron ranger," a metal container that will take money. Faucher said, "this is not a voluntary fee basis" and every car that comes in will be monitored.
The new parking fees will apply in the new parking area and the Hart Barn area, which will be the main parking areas since other lots will be closed, beginning with the canoe launch. The system for the Ski Barn is still being worked out, but Faucher says it will probably be in the form of a dollar fee added to the ski fee. The park will have a small separate area in the new lot for 15 parking spaces, for the use of ice cream stand or corn customers.
A question of self sufficiency
Faucher said, "The thrust for our department is to become more self sufficient." At this point, Great Brook State Park is 15-20% self sufficient, which translates into about 10 to 12 thousand dollars a year. He would like to see a larger yield, particularly in view of the fact that "systems that are fee-bound get state priority." Great Brook is presently 33rd on the state park priority list and it is essentially the amount of fees a park brings in that determines its place on the list. The group at the recent ConsCom coffee questioned the fee structure in terms of its being "penny-wise and pound foolish," since the fee program will have to be monitored by a limited staff of two off-season and, in past years, four people in the summer, to carry out a program which involves 250,000 visitors a year. The park is open from 8 a.m. (in the summer ) until approximately sundown, so maintaining the parking area will require two staff members.
It is not clear where residents who have comments about the parking fees may voice their concerns. There was an advisory committee for the state park, but two members of that advisory committee say no meeting has been called in several years. The Mosquito has been unable to obtain any information about the advisory committee's present status.
© 2003 The