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Wednesday, April 3, 2013
Re: the proposed daily fees for the Franklin County Park Beach at Smith Mountain Lake:
I strongly object to the collection of those fees. The last time the fee of $3.50 a day was imposed at the county park, I wrote to my supervisor (who was then Russ Johnson) to object. As was evidenced by the huge drop in attendance during the years it was imposed, the fee was responsible for many people not using the beach.
I live within a mile of the park, but my house is waterfront, and if I choose not to use the beach, my family can still use the lake. Consider the many, many people who do not live lake front, or even at the lake, who have been able to enjoy the beach over the past several years without the fee.
I understand that there are maintenance costs for the beach. And I recognize that, as Supervisor Bob Camicia stated, there are fees collected for other recreation programs. But in most of those cases, such as the youth recreation leagues, etc., the programs serve a limited number of people, and, as such, should be assessed minimal fees.
The beach, however, can be accessed by all Franklin County residents, no matter what age, where they live and what their incomes are. Therefore, it is unconscionable to charge the beach fees to local residents.
There are many low-income families in Franklin County who were able to give their kids days of fun in the water over the last several years who will be unable to do so now. For a family of five, it would cost $10 every time they wanted to use the beach, and if the plan goes forward, $15 per day next year. And maybe they would decide to do so two or three times in the summer. However, if there are 15 or 20 sweltering days in the summer, you are asking those people to spend $150 to $200 to use a facility that their tax dollars have paid for.
At the very least, there should be a way for any Franklin County family to spend $20 or $25 for a season family pass to use the beach. Then there could be a daily fee for those who come from out of the area to use the beach. That would be a much fairer way to cover the beach fees.
I strongly urge the Franklin County Board of Supervisors to reconsider the fees it has decided on. I believe that by using a system such as I have suggested, the same amount of money could be raised with a larger number of county residents being able to use the beach. I also strongly urge all Franklin County residents to contact their supervisors to rescind the proposed fees.
As far as closing the beach so early in August because of schools starting so very early, I am sure if it were advertised, there are a number of college students who either go to college locally or will not yet be back in school who would be able to do the lifeguard duties.
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