It’s a bit early to be thinking about summer.
And this bill has just been proposed. It must wend its way through the State Legislature, beginning with the Planning and Development Committee. There’s still a long way to go.
Yet it has the impact to completely change Connecticut’s beaches — including Westport’s.
“An Act Concerning Access to Public Beaches” — Proposed Bill #6351 from Representative Roland Lemar of the 96th district (New Haven and East Haven) — reads:
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Assembly convened: That the general statutes be amended to prohibit any municipality or other local unit of government from
(1) enacting ordinances, regulations or other rules that limit access to any public beach based on town residency of any potential visitor to such public beach, including when a municipal or local official determines that capacity concerns warrant limiting such access,
(2) establishing a fee or access structure that disparately impacts any such potential visitors based on town residency, and
(3) charging more for the issuance of any parking or access pass for any such public beach than the state charges for access to 10 its public parks.
Statement of Purpose: To prohibit municipalities and other local units of government from limiting the access of certain individuals to public beaches.
In other words: If passed, Westport would lose $1 million or so a year in revenue — yet still be responsible for staffing (lifeguards, etc.), maintaining, and cleaning the beach.
Not to mention what would happen if parking capacity limits were removed.
A proposed bill in the State Legislature would — among other things — prohibit charging out-of-towners more than residents for beach access. it would also prohibit local officials from determining limits based on capacity concerns.