Norwalk raises beach parking fees for non-residents, adds parking – CT Insider

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NORWALK — The city has increased parking fees for non-residents at the beaches, among several changes visitors will see this season.  
Norwalk residents can enter Calf Pasture Beach and Shady Beach free of charge if their vehicle is registered in the city and their license plate is on the city’s “grand list.”
But Monday through Friday, non-residents will pay $42 per vehicle, a $2 increase from last year. After 5 p.m. on weekdays, rates are $30, a $10 increase from last year. On weekends and holidays, the per-vehicle rate is $72 (up $7). The increased fees come amid a review of park fees and after the city has added parking and other amenities at Calf Pasture Beach. 
Residents of the landlocked towns of New Canaan, Redding, Ridgefield, Weston and Wilton may purchase a $325 season pass for summer access to Calf Pasture and Shady beaches.
Ken Hughes, superintendent of parks and public property, said the city has contracted MGT Consulting to conduct a fee study to determine how Norwalk’s park fees compare to other municipalities’ in Connecticut. He said results are expected in four to six months.
“[It’s] basically a study of all the fees that the rec and park department charges,” Hughes said. “So, that’ll let us know where we fall in terms of other municipalities our size and what they’re charging for services.”
Norwalk residents may take advantage of the free parking if their license plate is registered with the municipality. Hughes said the license plate identification system operates on a valid/invalid basis.
CLICK HERE for a comprehensive guide to Connecticut’s beaches.
Recent parking lot construction to the Calf Pasture Beach leaves 379 resident and 150 non-resident spaces —  a net gain of 25 spaces — in addition to a new pedestrian walkway.
“The biggest impact would be the new pedestrian walkway area, which would allow beachgoers to drop off their children and strollers without having to worry about weaving in and out through traffic,” Hughes said.
He said the construction also included “green infrastructure.” 
The new Calf Pasture parking lot now “has 21 trees, 59 shrubs and hundreds of perennials and grasses” to catch rainwater from the parking lot before it can runoff into the Long Island Sound, Hughes said in an email.
For both the Calf Pasture and Shady beaches, if the parking lots reach capacity, visitors can park their vehicles at the Taylor Farm Dog Park on Canfield Avenue.
Hughes estimates the open field on Canfield Avenue can accommodate 500 to 600 vehicles.
Beyond parking expansion, the pedestrian walkway and hundreds of new plant installations, the beaches now share 40 new trees and three new bocce courts (in addition to three pre-existing courts).
Hughes said construction on a new skate park next to the bocce courts will finish by the end of the year.
There are 60 new kayak racks at Shady Beach; Calf Pasture Beach also features a new cow-shaped bicycle rack.
Hughes said that this summer, there is no lifeguard shortage. The city has a full staff of 20 lifeguards with six to seven on each beach at any given time.
 

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