On November 5, 2012, the Falmouth Board of Selectmen (under agenda item “2013 fee hearing”) discussed a Beach Department proposal to open the Bristol Beach lot to the general public on weekdays, charging $10.00 to park there. Currently, Bristol is open only to residents who have a beach sticker or visitors who buy a day/week pass.
The Beach Department’s proposal to change Bristol Beach into a weekday public pay-to-park lot, similar to Old Silver Beach, was put forth to take advantage of what the Beach Department sees as under utilized parking capacity to generate additional income for the Town.
FHMIA member Andy Dufresne spoke in opposition to the proposal, stating that any visitor to Falmouth can purchase a $10.00 day pass at the bath house on Surf Drive, and can then park at any of the Town’s beaches (excepting Old Silver). He further stated that based upon the density of the Heights-Maravista area, if there was some urgent need to change “sticker holder only” beach parking lots into “public pay” lots, then Bristol should be the last lot with which to experiment. Andy also noted that the attendants at the Falmouth Heights Beach parking lot could and should do more to direct sticker holders to the Bristol lot when the Heights lot is full.
FHMIA President Howard Grosser represented the FHMIA Board of Directors position that the Bristol Beach lot should be left exactly as it is, exactly as it has been for some 60 years – a “sticker only” parking lot. He pointed out that while there may be empty parking spaces on some weekdays, there are not empty spaces on all weekdays. He also pointed out that, while a “fee” is involved, the BOS discussion to fundamentally alter the operation of the Bristol Beach lot should be taken up by the BOS as a change of use/change of policy issue, and not as it was advertised that night, as a part of a “fee setting” discussion.
Paul Affsa, President of the Teaticket Civic Association, said that he had heard about this issue only the night before. He suggested that more information, statistics, were needed and that the lot was often filled on Fridays.
The BOS voted not to accept the Beach Department’s proposal, and instead voted to leave the Bristol Lot as it is – a “sticker only” parking lot. They encouraged the Beach Committee to direct the attendants at the Heights Beach lot to do more to direct overflow to the Bristol lot. They further suggested to the Beach Department that they survey the use of the Bristol lot during the 2013 summer season, so that any weekday under-utilization can be quantified.
The last directive would indicate that this item will return next year for further consideration.