2018-03-08 / Around Town

Campground Fees to Increase Incrementally

By Jocelyn O'Neil

On March 5, the Middletown Town Council decided in a 6-1 vote to raise the fees of the Second Beach Family Campground by $4,000 over the next four years.

At Monday night's meeting, residents and the campground's out-of-town guests learned that fees would increase after a motion proposed by Council President Robert Sylvia to raise fees was modified from the original plan of an increase of $2,000 a year over two years, to $1,000 a year over four years. Councilor Barbara VonVillas was the only council member who opposed this motion.

At the Feb. 20 meeting, the council reached an impasse with a 3-3 vote which led to the issue to be addressed again on Monday evening. Councilor Dennis Turano was absent during that meeting, causing the deadlock.

VonVillas read a statement before the vote, urging her fellow council members to join her in voting against raising the fees to that level, because the need for such an increase had not been demonstrated to the council.

"We have had no public discussions of the financials relative to the beach, including the beach receipts as related to this proposal," said VonVillas. "Which is peculiar since this council seems quick to discuss the financial implications of every little thing.

"If an increase is necessary to maintain the beach and the facilities, I would like to know why the increases are being placed on the backs of the young families and the elderly campers?" said VonVillas.

She proposed a motion to increase the campground fees one time by $750 this year and to send the issue to the Town Administrator for the development of a financial plan. Her motion failed after not being seconded.

Before the vote, campground residents voiced their concerns about the increased fees.

Cranston resident Joanne Valente said many campers would not be able to afford to come back after such a large fee increase.

"It is not easy to stand here in front of people we don't know and try to make you understand that because of those large increases we will not be able to come back to the campground," said Valente.

Lorraine Starr, a resident of Worcester, Massachusetts asked the council to be "fair and just" concerning how they would vote on the campground fees.

Gary Pavlik, of Middletown, rhetorically asked the council about the public outcry from other residents and store owners. "Have we heard anything from residents, from store owners or restauranteurs [sic] about how they are going to lose their customer? No.

"The reality is, there is none," said Pavlik.

After the meeting, Sylvia said he felt good that the campground fee issue was finally resolved.

"I feel it's very appropriate and fair," he said. "They want to say that they're residents [of Middletown] but let's face it, they're not.

"My commitment is to Middletown," Sylvia said.

"I would hope that every one of their community's council members would work as hard as we do and be as dedicated to maintaining the solvency in their communities as we are."

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