Oyster Bay Town officials have ended a decades-old practice of waiving beach parking and permit fees for the Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the United Nations.
“We’re not going to provide them with free passes that our residents have to pay for,” Supervisor Joseph Saladino said Tuesday.
Oyster Bay Parks Commissioner Joseph Pinto said he received the Russians’ annual request for beach access in April when they asked for free permits for 140 cars — which would cost $8,400 at the resident rate. Although he had voted as a town board member to approve the waivers last year, Pinto, who was appointed parks commissioner in March, said it was unfair to residents who pay $60 for an annual permit. Saladino agreed.
“Residents have to pay $60, so how could we give free passes to nonresidents just because they’re Russian delegates?” Pinto said.
Pinto and Saladino said the change in policy had nothing to do with the investigation into Russian interference with the 2016 presidential election.
“You have to speak to someone who is dealing with international government, I’m dealing with the residents of the town of Oyster Bay,” Saladino said.
Requests for comment to the Russian Mission were not immediately returned on Wednesday.
In 2014, town spokeswoman Marta Kane told Newsday the town had given beach access to Russian and Soviet ambassadors, and their families since the 1960s “as a sign of goodwill.”
Anyone who is a resident of the 14-acre Russian-owned estate in Upper Brookville would have the same right to buy an annual permit as any other town resident, Saladino said. The U.S. government considering allowing Russians to return to that estate, according to media reports.
“They can pay for them like every other resident,” Saladino said.
At Centre Island beach and Tobay Beach, which a Russian Mission spokesman said in 2014 were favored by Russians, any nonresidents can pay $50 per car for weekday access. Centre Island allows permits to nonresidents on weekends and holidays for $60 per car per day. Tobay Beach does not allow nonresidents access on weekends and holidays.