By Tessa Roy, WPRO News
Officials said Monday that some of the state’s outdoor recreation can be better maintained and improved by issuing “modest” hikes in beach and camping fees, some of which Department of Environmental Management (DEM) Director Janet Coit said haven’t changed in 17 years.
“Our parks are still open and free to everyone, so these are for things like beach parking, campgrounds, renting a pavilion for a day,” she said at a Monday press conference at Lincoln Woods State Park. DEM is expected to announce exactly how much it proposes hiking these fees in the coming weeks.
Governor Gina Raimondo’s proposed budget adds $1.5 million for DEM’s Parks and Recreation Division, which the governor’s office said would “support an additional eight employees, most of whom would help regional managers better meet core service requirements like cleaner facilities and bathrooms to improve visitors’ experience.” Raimondo said current investments in state outdoor recreational facilities haven’t kept up with rising visitor rates.
“Nobody’s talking about doing what was done a few years ago and doubling the fees. I certainly would never support that. But I talked to a lot of people and I think folks would agree, a little bit more to have a better beach experience, cleaner bathrooms, better maintained pavilions, might be something that makes sense,” she said.
DEM will host series of “listening sessions” for the public to share ideas on improving Rhode Island’s parks system at the following locations:
4 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Westerly Town Hall Council Chambers
45 Broad Street, Westerly
4 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Lincoln Woods Nature Center
Lincoln Woods State Park, Lincoln
6 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Narragansett Community Center
53 Mumford Road, Narragansett
A fourth session in Bristol will be announced at a later date.