Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Greenwich Might be Loosening its Access Policies for its Beaches; Broadwater, Security & Secrecy

To the Beach ... It’s possible that residents of Greenwich think the town’s beach access policies for non-residents are as unfair and restrictive as people who don’t live in Greenwich do. The town’s parks board met let night and recommended some changes that would make it a bit easier to get into Greenwich Point Park (and to the publicly-owned waters of Long Island Sound) if you don’t happen to live in Greenwich.

Here (according to the Greenwich Time) are some of the recommendations:

Lower the daily fee to $1 (from $10) for pedestrians and bicyclers.

Lower the daily fee to $1 (from $10) for guests of residents.

Raise the nonresident vehicle fee to $25 (from $20) but allow nonresidents to buy a pass for 10 visits rather than having to buy a pass on the day of the visit.

The parks board said it was making the changes so it would be easier for residents to bring guests to the park. But of course the real reason was the challenge to the entry fee policies made by two Stamford residents --- Brendan Leydon several years ago, and Paul Kempner last year.

Leydon successfully sued to force Greenwich to open its beaches to out-of-towners; Kempner made a point of riding his bike in and not paying the $10 fee; when police charged him, the state attorney refused to prosecute.

Admittedly yesterday’s recommendations are limited. If you live in Stamford, for example, and want to drive to the beach with your family, it’s still going to be expensive: $25 to park and $10 for each person in the car. That’s an unacceptably big cost for a day at the beach, particularly when you can go to Westport’s Compo Beach, which is just as nice, for $15 on weekdays.

But there might be ways around the high fee. For example, you can put your bikes on your car, find a place to park in Old Greenwich, don your backpacks, and ride to Greenwich Point, for $1 each. Are there places to park for the day in Old Greenwich? I don’t know for sure, but I’d be surprised if a little searching didn’t turn up something.

Broadwater: Secrecy and security … I was away over the weekend and missed this New York Time story, which says the public won’t be able to review and comment on proposals to keep Broadwater’s huge LNG plant safe because of post-9/11 security concerns. Some people in Connecticut and on Long Island think that should be enough to kill the proposal.

I learned about the Times article from the Energy Outlook blog, which is written by an energy consultant from Connecticut named Geoffrey Sykes. He argues that it’s an absurd leap of reasoning to say that because the security plans will remain secret, that means the Broadwater plant is inherently unsafe. But he does acknowledge that the secrecy issue is a tough one to deal with:

As a resident, I share the frustration of those seeking to understand how Broadwater might affect the area, particularly in a worst-case scenario. Under our system we have come to expect full public scrutiny of such proposals as part of our Constitutional rights, honed by legislation such as the Freedom of Information Act. But we also shouldn't lose sight of the responsibility of the government and of businesses acting under government license to safeguard information, the release of which might be harmful in wartime. The Broadwater project must find a way to navigate the gap between those poles, if it is to go forward.

Read it here.


Anonymous Alex M. said...

There's no need to drive to Old Greenwich ( and clog up the narrow streets again, and cause the inevitable installation of no-parking signs and parking meters on currently-free sidewalks of Sound Beach Ave).
All you need to do is take a train to the Old Greenwich, and bike from there -- it's less than a mile. We've been doing this for years ( from NYC ), and everyone knows that you don't need a card or admission fee in the off-season (from November through April).
A ride and walk to the beach (where you don't even need to lock up your bike!), and a brunch at one of cafes near the train station makes for a perfect day-outing.
The updated rules make a lot of sense and I'm very happy about them -- they make the access easier in-season without destroying the laid-back atmosphere of Old Greenwich.
Relative uncrowdiness of the beach itself is probably it's main draw -- it is rare to find it so close to the city.
So, please don't bring your car :) !

11:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Greetings from Old Greenwich. Today is July 25, 2007... I have been calling Parks and Recreation here in O.G., trying to find out if I can ride my bike in to the beach with my kids in a trailer... what will that cost me? I grew up here in O.G. and there never was this problem with the guest passes having to be purchased ahead of time at the Civic Center or Town Hall. If you know what the rules are for cyclists these days at the Point, I'd love to know.


1:45 PM  

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