WESTERLY, R.I. (WPRI) — Beachgoers looking to visit Misquamicut will now have to pay more to park.
Residents will now pay $10 on weekdays and $15 on weekends and holidays, according to the R.I. Department of Environmental Management (DEM), while non-residents will be charged $20 on weekdays and $30 on weekdays and holidays.
New fees for the purchase of daily flex passes will be reflected when the online parking system goes through a scheduled maintenance update this month, the DEM added.
“The modest increase in beach fees at Misquamicut limit the burden on Rhode Island taxpayers by ensuring that beach patrons — including the 88 percent of out-of-state residents who visit Misquamicut State Beach in Westerly each year — contribute their fair share toward beach operations,” explained Jason McNamee, Ph.D., deputy director of the DEM’s Bureau of Natural Resources.
The DEM held a public hearing on the proposed new fees back in April, and the fees were then approved by the General Assembly.
The additional funds raised will support the DEM’s Division of Parks and Recreation, as well as increase the revenue provided to the town, according to the DEM.
“While nobody likes an increase in parking fees, the time has definitely come,” Westerly Town Councilor and Misquamicut Business Association Executive Director Caswell Cooke Jr. said. “The prices of beach parking at the state beach have been stagnant for over a decade and do not produce enough income to cover the rising costs of staff, lifeguards, and now trash removal at the beach. For extra services, an extra fee is required.”
“It also puts the area businesses on more of a level playing field with the state beach,” he continued. “We hope people will come and enjoy the beauty that the beaches have to offer and keep our natural resources in pristine condition by disposing of their trash properly.”