This year marked the first time the Town of Brookhaven charged residents for parking access at its public beaches and marinas, and following Tuesday's town board meeting, that system will see some changes.
Instead of offering a two-year permit for two cars for $25 – which amounted to $6.25 per car per year – the town will instead charge a $10 fee per car per year. For senior citizens and veterans the parking pass would cost $7 per car per year. Two-year passes issued in 2012 will still be honored. The single-day resident parking fee would remain at $5, and the single-day non-resident parking fee would remain at $20. However, non-residents will have to pay more for a yearly parking pass. In 2012, the town charged $325 for a two-year pass. That would change to $225 for a one-year pass.
The system as it stood in 2012 was "operationally and procedurally ... difficult to manage," parks commissioner Ed Morris said at a Dec. 13 work session. He also said Brookhaven's beach and marina parking fees will remain lower than other townships' fees, such as Islip, Southampton, and Babylon. The parking fees brought the town $800,000, more than the anticipated $625,000 in revenue it originally projected.
The resolution passed 5-2, with councilwoman Jane Bonner and councilman Tim Mazzei voting against the fee increases.
Docking Fees Will Also Increase
In the same resolution, the town board also voted to increase other fees in the Department of Parks, Recreation, Sports and Cultural Resources, including docking fees at town marinas. On the south shore, docking your boat will cost an extra $10 per foot, and on the north shore, it will cost an extra $14 per foot.
Air Quality Concerns Arise As Brookhaven Burns Sandy Debris
In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, Brookhaven's landfill became the primary center for the receipt of vegetative debris not just for the town but also for other municipalities nearby. According to a Dec. 11 letter sent by supervisor Ed Romaine to Suffolk County, the town has been burning that debris in amounts as large as 5,000 cubic yards per day – but as a result has heard outcry from residents near the landfill.
In response to those complaints, Romaine said he would closely monitor the situation and cease the burning of the debris if the air quality dropped below acceptable levels, and would close the landfill to those other townships that are currently paying Brookhaven to take in their debris. The landfill is recognized within the town as a major source of revenue.
Romaine said Tuesday that the county will now install equipment to monitor the air quality and monitor it 24 hours a day.
"While trying to process mountains of debris is important, my first concern remains the health of the residents of Brookhaven Town," Romaine said.
Supervisor Addresses Meeting Agendas, Resident Questions
Anticipating people's frustrations in not being able to have their questions directly answered during public comment sessions, Romaine announced he would hold "Q&A" sessions at 4:30 p.m. prior to each town board meeting. He invited residents to arrive at 4:15 to fill out cards with questions they want answered.
"I think that would be a better way for you to ask questions and at least try to get some of the answers that you want," he said. "It will not be a debate. I’m simply going to try to answer the question that they wrote on the card."
He also pledged more advance information on resolutions prior to the town board meetings – motivated in part, he said, by his own experience trying to get the resolutions ahead of time.
"We’re going to have to work together as a team to have a better system so we’re not scrambling at the last minute to try to get hard copies of the full resolutions," he said.