Last year, and the year before, between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. on the weekend during the summer months, motorists were required to pay $50 to park in Bayville’s Ransom Beach parking lot if they were not Town of Oyster Bay residents or did not have a town beach sticker.
Across the street is a strip mall, referred to by locals as “the Stands.” It comprises mostly eateries, including Ralph’s Pizza, and Bayville Adventure Park is there too, which attracts many families during
the summer months. A slice of pizza would have cost out-of- towners and residents without town stickers more than $50 last year. This year, it will only cost more than $10.
The Oyster Bay Town Board approved a new rule on Tuesday making parking for those without the town sticker at Ransom Beach less costly. Those who don’t live in town, and Bayville residents who don’t have a summer beach sticker — which cost $60 — will be charged $10 a day for parking.
That’s better than last year, said Connie Del Prete, who has owned Ralph’s Pizza for three years, but she remains concerned. “The first year, before the town started charging the fees, was great,” she said. “The second year, when it was $50 to park, we lost all of our lunch customers. People would come, and I’d see them turn around to leave once they found out how much it cost to park there, and that went on all day long.”
Del Prete collected 600 signatures to protest the fee, which she gave to Supervisor Joseph Saladino at the town board meeting. “[Residents] want the parking for free,” she said. “Why not listen to the community? They live here.”
The sticker allows access to all seven of the town’s beaches, including Ransom and nearby Stehli beaches, but is only available to town residents.
The new fee to park in the 100-space lot will be in effect on Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., beginning this weekend.
Brian Nevin, the town’s public information officer, said the fee is necessary because people were parking in the Ransom Beach lot for free and walking over to Stehli Beach. “That’s why we started manning it,” he said. “At Ransom we were charging the same rate as elsewhere at town parks and beaches.”
The $10 fee is a compromise, Nevin said. “A beach sticker is $60 for the summer, and it’s $20 a day [at other town parks and beaches] if a resident doesn’t have a sticker,” he said. “It’s $50 a day at other town beaches for non-residents a day. Now it will be $10 a day for non-residents at Ransom, as well as for residents that don’t have a sticker.”
The Ransom Beach lot doesn’t provide access to the beach. Years ago, before it eroded, there was a beach. Now it is 15 feet below the parking lot. Residents have traditionally gone to the lot to watch the sunset, or to park, so they can go to one of the businesses across the street. There is also an old playground behind the fence that surrounds the lot, but it’s usually empty.
“When we had our meeting with town representatives on April 3, I told them straight to their faces that Ransom Beach isn’t a park or a beach,” said Bayville Mayor Paul Rupp, adding that that was the reason town officials gave for charging a fee. Entry to all town parking lots at parks and beaches during the summer requires payment of a fee or a seasonal sticker. “I told them that any fee has a negative impact on the business community,” Rupp said.
Dangers on the stretch of Bayville Avenue where the businesses are located is often a topic of discussion at village meetings. Residents have complained of poor lighting at the crosswalk and speeding drivers. There are a handful of parking spots in front of the businesses, but the owners say people often leave their cars there all day, which, without parking signs, they can legally do.
“The town wanted us to open up parking on Bayville Avenue across the street from the Stands, where there’s no parking, but it’s dangerous there,” Rupp said, referring to the side of the road outside Ransom Beach’s gate. “Cars fly by on Bayville Avenue.”
Trustee Bob Nigro said he doesn’t believe the fee is fair. “In Oyster Bay, no one pays,” he said. “The guys in Oyster Bay should be more sympathetic to our merchants.”
Another trustee, Tim Charon, said he wondered if it was cost prohibitive. “How much will it cost the town to have someone in that booth collecting the money?” he asked.
Nevin said the village should help the businesses. “The business owners say it’s impacting our business,” he said. “They don’t have their own parking, and the village has done nothing about that.”
Nevin added that the businesses agreed to the $10 fee. But Del Prete said they did not.
Saladino said on Tuesday that the fee arrangement would be monitored, and that he would ask businesses if it hurt them at the end of the season.
Del Prete said she and the other businesses at the Stands will keeping a record of how they do this summer. In the meantime, she she believes that the town needs to improve the lot.
“There’s no park for the kids, and because the playground isn’t maintained, no one uses it,” Del Prete said. “If they’re going to charge $10, they have to upgrade the playground. Ten dollars is just for the view? There’s nothing there at Ransom Beach.”
A few Bayville residents spoke against the fee at the town meeting. They also requested that the playground be replaced, and benches added. Saladino said the improvements would be made.