Saugatuck's Oval Beach Parking Entrance Fees, Concession Stand Sales Up For 2016
Saugatuck Oval Beach activity was up this year compared to last, as the city saw close to an 11 percent increase in daily parking lot entrance passes and a four percent increase in concession stand sales, Saugatuck City officials told The Local Observer.
Part of the hike comes from the fact there were more visitors that came to the area this past summer season, which helped make it a record-breaking year for some merchants.
“We had a ton of people that came out to enjoy the beach this summer,” said Saugatuck City Manager Kirk Harrier.
Saugatuck/Douglas Convention & Visitors Bureau Executive Director Felicia Fairchild made similar comments.
“We had a phenomenal number of visitors come to the area this year, a huge number,” boasted Fairchild.
“A lot of the merchants had a record-breaking year. Some, however, did not. I am talking about restaurants like The Butler, where visitors had a three-hour wait or more and some had to be turned away because there were so many people,” added Fairchild.
The daily beach pass sales in 2015 accounted for 37,250 while this past summer the daily passes sold jumped to 41,200, according to Saugatuck City Finance Director Peter Stanislawski.
The beach parking entrance fee (daily fee is $8) is charged from Memorial Day through Labor Day.
City officials also attribute the beach use increase to nice, warm weather as well as the newly improved parking lot.
“We had a lot of positive feedback from beachgoers about the parking lot,” said Harrier about the more than $300,000 parking lot improvements, constituting a repaving and expansion at the entrance turnaround so as to accommodate large recreational vehicles.
A few parking spaces were added to the already 500 spots now there.
Furthermore, the city this year purchased a $53,750 beach cleaner city officials have been very pleased with.
The revenue generated by beach passes goes right back to the city, covering its expenses for beach patrol and parking lot and beach maintenance. The rest of the generated revenue goes into the parks budget, which is about $450,000 per year.
“Oval Beach revenue covers all the others parks we have downtown,” said Stanislawski.
A few days before the Labor Day weekend, after which the parking fee stops, the city reported it had generated $352,000, a small difference from last year’s $350,000, but a huge difference compared to the previous seasons’ average of $250,000.