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May 01. 2013 8:09PM

Hampton Beach parking $2; off-season drops to $1

HAMPTON BEACH - Effective May 1, the on-season metered parking rate at Hampton Beach of $2/hour took effect.

Last summer the rate was raised from $1.75/hour to help support the $14.5 million renovation of state facilities at the beach.

The change was approved by the fiscal committee, as was an allowance permitting the Division of Parks and Recreation to charge an off-season rate of $1/hour in April and October.

Phil Bryce, director of the division of parks and recreation, said one of the objectives is to extend the beach season into other months, prompting them to request the off-season parking rate.

"It may have been simpler to just charge two dollars across the board, but we thought in terms of promoting getting people to the beach in April and October, it would make sense," Bryce said.

Bryce said there are higher expectations of maintenance at the beach as a result of the new facilities, and in order to keep up the maintenance, they needed a revenue source.

"The way parks operates, because the system is operationally self-funded, if we provide services, we need some revenue source to support those services," Bryce said.

In Hampton, that revenue is parking. Last April, the beach saw a lot of use due to warm temperatures. Bathrooms, trash, sidewalks and the beach all need to be kept up.

"But at same time, we don't have the lifeguard costs, we don't have the high intensity of use, the amount of trash to deal with, so as a result it didn't make sense to charge the full two dollars, but we said we need something and a dollar seems to be working alright and is important for us to be able to keep the park open," Bryce said.

gmacalaster@newstote.com


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