National Park Service to hold Public Engagement Events on Sandy Hook Rate Increases at Pallone’s Request
Long Branch, NJ –The National Park Service (NPS) announced that it will be holding public engagement events on August 12 and August 20 for its proposal to increase Sandy Hook’s camping and parking fees. There will also an open house to discuss the proposal on August 31. The announcement comes after Pallone wrote NPS Director Jonathan B. Jarvis requesting that NPS hold a public hearing on the fee increases and provide information on the fee differences between Sandy Hook and other parks. Pallone also requested a meeting with NPS to learn how the revenues from the increased fees will be used, and if these new revenues would be used exclusively to maintain and improve facilities at Sandy Hook. NPS has not yet responded with additional information.
“It is crucial that New Jersey residents and those who pay the fees as Sandy Hook receive the opportunity to comment on these rate increases and this is a positive first step,” said Pallone. “Still, I remain greatly concerned about the rate proposal and am awaiting additional information on NPS’ proposal. We should be looking at ways to encourage more visitors to the parks, helping the surrounding economies. This proposal to yet again increase park fees moves us in the opposite direction.”
The public can offer its opinions at Gunnison Beach’s parking plaza on Friday, August 12 from 11am to 2pm and at Lot D’s parking plaza on Saturday, August 20 from 11am to 2pm. The open house will be held on August 31 from 6pm to 8 pm at the Sandy Hook Chapel.
For most vehicles, beach parking is currently $15 per day or $75 per season. For oversized vehicles (more than 20 feet), the charge is $30 per day or $150 per season. The new proposal would place fees at $20 per day and $100 per season, with $50 per day and $200 a season for oversized cars. This would mark the second fee increase at the park in five years.
In 2012, Pallone successfully fought efforts to increase parking fees per vehicle from $10 to $20, and a season pass increase from $50 to $100. NPS compromised and cut the proposed fees by half, which is what the parking fees are today.
The text of Pallone’s letter to NPS is below:
August 2, 2016
Director Jonathan P. Jarvis
National Park Service
Dear Director Jarvis:
I am writing to express my opposition to the proposed increases to the parking and camping fees at the Sandy Hook Unit of Gateway National Park. The National Park Service (NPS) should abandon this proposal, which would be the second fee increase in just five years.
Currently, NPS is proposing to increase the parking and camping fees on vehicles accessing Sandy Hook in 2017. This would be a dramatic increase from what fees were in 2011, when it cost $10 a day to park a car at Sandy Hook. This increase would cause additional financial burden to the many individuals and families who visit the park for recreational purposes, and has the potential to negatively impact the local economy. We should be looking at ways to encourage more visitors to the parks, helping the surrounding economies. This proposal to yet again increase park fees moves us in the opposite direction.
Ensuring affordable access for the public to Sandy Hook has been important to me throughout my time in Congress. I have repeatedly called upon NPS to avoid fee increases, and have worked to forgo or reduce these increases in the past. However, I find myself again having to appeal to the NPS to withdraw this latest proposed increase. In order for the NPS to fully understand the impact these fee increases would have on the visitors to Sandy Hook, I call upon the NPS to have a public hearing to hear directly from local residents, officials, and visitors to Sandy Hook. I would also request that the NPS provide to me statistical information related to Sandy Hook – specifically visitor counts and revenue information from prior to the last fee increase through the most recent data available. In addition, I request a meeting with NPS representatives who can provide an explanation of the proposed use of the increased fees, and if the fee money collected at Sandy Hook is dedicated specifically to Sandy Hook, or if any is diverted to other parks within Gateway National Recreation Area, or other NPS parks.
I thank you in advance for your attention to this letter, and I look forward to working with you and your staff on this matter.