DEM announces opening date for South County beaches
The Department of Environmental Management announced that state beaches in South County will be open weekends from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. beginning on Saturday, May 14. Scarborough North, Roger Wheeler and Misquamicut state beaches will be open Saturdays and Sundays, weather permitting, from May 14 until Memorial Day to accommodate early beach-goers and advance season pass sales. All state beaches will be open on a daily basis from Memorial Day, the traditional start of the summer outdoor recreation season, until Labor Day.
The beach at Lincoln Woods State Park will open on a daily basis, weather permitting, beginning May 14. Goddard Memorial State Park beach will open on May 14, Saturdays and Sundays, weather permitting. The remaining nonsurf state beaches, Burlingame picnic area and campground, Pulaski Park, George Washington campground and Fort Adams State Park will be open daily beginning Saturday, May 28, until Labor Day.
Parking fees at state beaches are based solely upon the registration (i.e. license plate) of each vehicle entering the beach facilities. All Rhode Island-registered vehicles will be subject to resident parking rates (daily and seasonal); vehicles without Rhode Island plates will be subject to non-resident rates (daily and seasonal). The regulations define a vehicle as any street legal equipment, motorized or non-motorized, properly registered for over-the-road travel.
DEM will hold a public hearing on proposed increases to fees for daily parking and season passes at state beaches on Friday, May 13. The 10 a.m. hearing will take place in Room 300 at DEM Headquarters, 235 Promenade St. in Providence. Rhode Island state beach fees were last raised in 2002. The proposed increases will enable DEM to maintain current services at the state’s seven saltwater beaches in South County at a time when the state is facing severe budget constraints. The increased fees will generate $1.8 million for the state General Fund. The proposed rates are comparable to fees charged by similar private and municipal facilities and Connecticut state beaches.
The proposed fee changes will be made by regulation following the public hearing and take effect 20 days after being filed with the Secretary of State’s Office. DEM will continue to charge the 2010 rates for daily parking and season passes until the proposed fees take effect, which is expected to take place in early June. DEM is proposing, for instance, to increase daily beach parking fees for residents from $6 to $10 on weekdays and from $7 to $14 on weekends and holidays. Non-resident beach parking fees would increase from $12 to $20 on weekdays and from $14 to $28 on weekends and holidays. Season passes would increase from $30 to $60 for residents and from $60 to $120 for non-residents. The fees are for parking only; there is no cost for anyone to walk onto a state beach.
Senior citizens will continue to enjoy half-price rates. Proposed daily beach parking fees for senior residents are $5 on weekdays and $7 on weekends and holidays. Proposed non-resident senior beach parking fees are $10 on weekdays and $14 on weekends and holidays. Season passes would cost $30 for resident seniors and $60 for non-resident seniors.