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Seaside controversy gets salty in Old Lyme as town raises parking rates to $75

Daily rate is $75 for weekends and holidays, $45 for weekdays

OLD LYME, Conn. — The seaside controversies in Old Lyme just keep coming. A few years ago it was beach fences being erected to keep people off privately owned slices of sand. Now, it's parking.

All-day parking in the town beach lot is now $75 starting Saturday. It's bothering both beachgoers and area businesses.

“That’s insane. That’s a big increase,” said Diego Duque of Stamford, who said he’s been coming to Sound View Beach in Old Lyme for years.

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FOX61 left messages with town officials, who did not call us back. So we took the issue to Gov. Ned Lamont who said, “Look, $75 is incredibly expensive.”

The $75 fee is for town lot beach parking on weekends and holidays. The fee is $45 on weekdays. The town said the fee increase reflects the increased cost of beach operations from rangers to cleanup and trash hauling.

“I can go somewhere else if that’s the case. I can go to Misquamicut for less than $20 a day,” said Duque.

So what do businesses think about it? The manager of The Pavillion pointed out that paying more for parking means less to spend on food and drinks.

“You shouldn’t have to have a lot of money to say 'oh I’m going to go to the beach today,'” said Stephanie Livesey. “And just the cost of getting here. You have to pay for gas and everything in your house is costing more.”

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It’s a little cheaper to park in the private parking lots.

“We had to go to $40,” said Angelo Grasso, who owns one of those lots. Even he has had to raise prices now that the town has increased its permit fees from $30 to $85 per space.

“We're kind of forced to. We’d like not to, but that kind of price doesn’t bring in the family people,” said Grasso.

RELATED: Lake McDonough closed to swimming until further notice as lifeguard shortages hit Connecticut beaches

There is also some cheaper street parking in Old Lyme, but there are not many spaces. Businesses say the new parking fees will force families out and increase vandalism and illegal activity.

So if you're looking for some really cheap beach parking, consider a state park.

“We have shoreline locations that everyone can enjoy,’ said Katie Dykes, the Commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.

At the state parks, any Connecticut resident can park for free thanks to the Passport to Parks program, a surcharge you are already paying for on your vehicle registration.

“It’s going to be an amazing summer. Everyone is looking forward to getting outside,” said Lamont.

Matt Caron is a reporter at FOX61 News. He can be reached at mcaron@fox61.com. Follow him on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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