Dobie: Waiving beach parking fees not a hot idea
Michael DobieMichael Dobie
Michael Dobie is a member of the Newsday editorial board.
On the surface, it's an interesting proposal: Suffolk County Legis. Jay Schneiderman wants to waive parking fees at county beaches on days when it's really hot.
Alas, as an idea it's not so hot. The legislature would be advised to proceed with caution.
The pitch from Schneiderman (I-Montauk) would allow County Executive Steve Bellone to waive the $8 parking fee on days when the National Weather Service has issued a heat advisory, excessive heat watch or excessive heat warning. Schneiderman calls his proposal a matter of "public health and safety" in that it would help some really steamed people beat the heat.
But the county is in no position to give away money. Suffolk needs revenue to pay for maintaining those beaches. And the county is facing a deficit of as much as $170 million for 2015 and is scrambling for ways to close that gap. The beaches produced $1.23 million in parking fees last summer. Why make the financial job any tougher?
And, let's be honest, $8 is not that much of a price to bear for a family seeking some cool relief. Not as cheap as a walk in an air-conditioned mall, perhaps, but hardly exorbitant, either.
To their credit, Schneiderman's peers from both sides of the aisle -- from Presiding Officer DuWayne Gregory (D-Amityville) to Minority Leader John Kennedy (R-Nesconset) -- are expressing caution.
Good for them.
This is one proposal the ocean waves should carry away.