Non-Resident Oval Beach Visitors Will Have To Pay A Little More As City Increases Fees
Those living outside of the City of Saugatuck can expect to pay a little more this year to enter the Oval Beach parking lot and enjoy one of the finest inland beaches in the country.
The Saugatuck City Council unanimously approved the hike on Monday.
The beach is a popular destination for tourist and area residents alike. Entrance is free for walkers and cyclists, but motorists pay for usage of the parking lot, which also provides access to the pristine duneland of the Saugatuck Harbor Natural Area, adjacent to the beach at the north end.
The fees rose from $6 to $8 for daily usage and $40 to $50 for seasonal passes. However, no increase was put in place for the seasonal pass offered to residents and local taxpayers, staying at the $20 rate.
Along with the entrance fee change, the city will for the first time offer motorists the option to pay with credit cards.
“The only way to generate funds (to offset costs for needed improvements) is to reduce services or increase fees,” Saugatuck City Manager Kirk Harrier told his council.
Those improvements include resurfacing of the parking lot as well as expansion of the parking area at the backside of the concession stand to accommodate the overflow of beachgoers, explained the city manager.
Along with monies from the general fund, much of the revenue generated from the increases will help pay for those projects, said officials, who estimated an additional $80,000 would be realized from the jump in prices of a total of $335,000 being raised from the Oval Beach fees.
“We had a lengthy discussion about this in workshop,” noted Saugatuck Mayor Bill Hess. “The surveys we conducted showed our fees are consistent with state (of Michigan) parks and area beaches.”
The expansion, the parking lot improvements, the credit card payment option (a percentage of the sale amount goes to pay the processing company), and federal minimum wage requirements, all influenced the city’s move for an increase.
The beach is open from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m., from Memorial Day through Labor Day, and the beach gate is locked at 10 p.m.
The city last increased its entry fees in 2010, moving to a flat $6 from $5 on weekdays and $10 on weekends and holidays.
In 2013, the city—with officials citing the city could operate it and generate funds—took over the beach concession stand after its contract with Sand Witches of Douglas expired.