The weather outside may be frightful. Nevertheless, Westport beach stickers went on sale this week.
There’s a small price rise for residents; a bigger one for Weston residents ($375, up from $250 for last year) — and a bigger one still for all others ($775, up from $490).
Daily parking increases too: It’s now $50 weekdays, $65 on weekends.
That news did not sit well with one Norwalk family. They write:
We consider your nearly 50% increase in non-resident parking emblems outrageous, and motivated by more than needs relating to upgrades to latrines. The sudden and dramatic inflation of the emblem tag is a naked and obvious way to cut down on “outsiders.”
Surely you are aware of the effect this has on the family budgets of hard working people. Your sudden price increase makes your beach, and neighbors mingling with neighbors, cost prohibitive.
For several years we have loyally contributed to Westport by spending time there in the summers with your already expensive decals. We paid for this without complaint. We always behaved well, and summered in a clean and friendly way — while contributing to your vendors and local economy.
For working people like us in Norwalk (both educators outside of our area), this was our yearly vacation. After many years, this loyalty has been rewarded with this unprovoked and inappropriate price increase — a thumb in the eye of your clients and long-time supporters.
You may wish to know why we are so eager to use your beaches, when Norwalk has its own lovely locations. The reason is that our friendships and our kids’ friends aren’t divided by town borders. Through Scouts, church, parades, athletics and community events — including at your own public library — we co-mingle.
Unlike the apparent exclusivity exhibited by your town’s politicians, most regular people are eager to spend time with those who aren’t their immediate neighbors.
Your decision-makers should be eager to lead in this rather than increasing barriers especially as you promote the “hate has no place here” themes and inclusive rhetoric.
A Norwalk family claims Westport’s beach policy is exclusionary — and hypocritical. (Photo/Brandon Malin)
Your town officials have spoken out on changing Westport’s “image,” and largely blame outside forces for any possible negative reputation. No need to look beyond your community — the image can be helped from within. This price increase flies in the face of that. Given this increased price point, it seems we can add hypocrisy on the part of the powers that be to the questionable motives.
Lastly, your lack of acknowledging (in original emails and posts, as well as subsequent email exchanges) the nature and effect of the cost prohibitive nature of your decision is insulting. Prices don’t go up for 300 to 400 “outside” families by nearly 50% (plus other fees for your own residents) to cover improvements to the bathrooms. This makes no sense on its face, and is insulting.
At best, your decision is an effort to keep Westport beaches closed to neighbors for misguided logistical reasons. At worst, it is motivated by race and class.
We plan to gather families inside and outside your town. We will contact the media to explore the nature, results and effects of your decision immediately.