2014-07-25 / Front Page

Board shoots down shared beach pass

Chamber of Commerce sought discussion of proposal to combine
By Alex Acquisto
Staff Writer

KENNEBUNK — Both boards of selectmen in Kennebunk and Kennebunkport recently discussed reciprocal beach parking passes between the two towns.

Kennebunkport selectmen voted to examine the notion further, while Kennebunk selectmen voted against further exploration of the proposal 4-3.

If the proposal had passed, Kennebunk and Kennebunkport residents could have purchased one beach pass that would give them access to all the beaches in both towns.

As it stands, residents of each town have to buy passes at the nonresident rates to patronize beaches in the other town.

Kennebunkport has two beaches: Colony Beach and Goose Rocks Beach. Colony Beach does not require parking passes.

Resident parking passes for Goose Rocks are $5 per summer. Nonresident passes are $12 daily, $50 weekly and $100 seasonally.

Kennebunk has three beaches: Mother’s Beach, Middle Beach and Gooch’s Beach. Residents pay $2 for stickers on their first vehicle and $5 for beach pass stickers on their second vehicle. Residents may also purchase $20 season passes for guests.

Nonresident passes in Kennebunk, valid at any of the three beaches, cost $20 a day, $75 for a week and $150 for a season.

The proposal to discuss issuing reciprocal parking passes came from the Kennebunk, Kennebunkport and Arundel Chamber of Commerce, said Laurie Smith, Kennebunkport town manager.

Denise Clavette, executive director of the chamber, said she passed along the notion after she received inquiries about reciprocal beach passes from a handful of residents and nonresidents.

The Kennebunkport Board of Selectmen discussed the matter at their Thursday, July 10 meeting.

“There’s this feeling that the beaches are certainly a great asset in both communities, but since we do so many things together, why can’t we have one reciprocal beach sticker?” Smith asked, while also acknowledging, “Certainly I know both communities have a lot of expenses they incur to maintain these areas and so a shared resource pool may be a little difficult.”

Kennebunkport Selectman Patrick Briggs said, “I don’t think there’s going to be that much cross-fertilization ... for the residents, it allows you to, when you’re there, it’s not like we’re all going to jump in the car and drive over to the beach and take over.”

“There is value, potentially in having something for the residents. I think it’s worthy of consideration,” said Selectman Stuart Barwise.

Chairman Allen Daggett pointed out that Kennebunk is three times larger than Kennebunkport in size, but also in beach accessibility for the public.

“I mean, I wonder how that’s going to affect us over here,” Daggett said in reference to profits earned from reciprocal beach passes.

Because the Kennebunk Board of Selectmen voted not to discuss the matter further with the Kennebunkport Board of Selectmen, the proposal of reciprocal beach passes has been tabled indefinitely.

The Kennebunk Board of Selectmen met two days earlier, on Tuesday, July 8. Most members were adamantly opposed to the idea, some even exclaimed that the issue did not merit discussion.

“No,” said Selectman Al Searles.

“I don’t understand why we would do it, quite frankly. I have no idea why we would go on with it,” said Chairman Kevin Donovan.

Selectman Chris Cluff said he thought it was a “great idea. The problem is, the numbers don’t do it for me.”

Town Manager Barry Tibbetts calculated that about 250 seasonal permits were sold in 2013, a figure that earned Kennebunk approximately $38,000.

“I think that’s too much for us to give up ... I think it would make everyone feel good, but the numbers don’t make sense to me.”

Kennebunk resident John Costin told the board he has been waiting a long time for someone to suggest joint beach passes.

“I think it’s a very good idea,” Costin said.

Costin also pointed out the revenue numbers used to illustrate the profit made from seasonal permits weren’t necessarily helpful because it is unknown how many of those were sold to Kennebunkport residents.

“I suspect the number is quite low,” he said.

It’s an added feature, Costin said, to be able to say, “This permit that you’re about to buy is good not only at Kennebunk Beach, but also down the road at Colony Beach, at Goose Rocks Beach, especially people who are cruising around not seeing spaces at Kennebunk Beach.”

“Maybe people would be more encouraged to buy weekly permits,” Costin said.

“I don’t see any sense in it at all,” said Selectman David Spofford. “I think it’s added bureaucracy, trying to decide who’s going to what beach, etc.

“If you want to go to Goose Rocks Beach, buy a permit to Goose Rocks Beach ... I think this is something we don’t even need to talk about.”

Said Searles, “I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: no. Every time we get involved in a scheme like this, we end up with the short end of the stick. And I’m tired of the short end of the stick. Leave it the way it is.”

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