Suffolk County Legislator Ed Romaine has come out swinging against the twilight beach parking fees that has outraged East End residents.
Last week, a majority of the Suffolk County Legislature voted in favor of a last-minute resolution introduced by County Executive Steve Bellone to create a $4 per vehicle “twilight” parking fee for beach-goers who arrive at Smith Point, Cupsogue, and Meschutt Beach county parks between the hours of 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. Previously, the county stopped collecting parking fees at 5 p.m.
On Monday, it had decided to waive the $4 twilight parking fee at Hampton Bays' ; however, it has instituted the fee its West Hampton Dunes and Shirley-based .
But Romaine said any twilight fee is too high: "I adamantly opposed this back-door tax. In these tough economic times, many cannot afford to pay the already high parking charge and visit our beaches only after the 5 p.m. to soak up those last rays of sunshine or enjoy some of the free entertainment provided at our parks," Romaine said.
The North Fork Legislator said he fears the fee will not generate new revenue and will drive down twilight attendance, causing a decline in concession sales. Parks, he added, would need additional staff to collect the fee and would incur the cost of lifeguards who would have to be on duty longer.
"It’s time for Suffolk to stop 'nickel and diming' county residents and utilize real solutions to correct our budget problems," Romaine said.