|Visitors will be charged $2 this year, $3 in 2014|
Friday, March 29, 2013
By CHARLES BOOTHE - Staff Writer
The Franklin County Board of Supervisors has reinstituted a fee to use the beach area at Smith Mountain Lake Community Park.
When the beach opens for the season on Memorial Day weekend, visitors will pay a fee of $2 each to enter.
Mike Burnette, the county's director of economic development, told the board at a meeting Monday that the number of visitors at the beach dropped dramatically in 2009 when a $3.50 fee was charged.
The beach area opened in 2008 with more than 14,000 visitors that season.
That number dropped to 4,247 in 2009, the first season with fees, and to 3,791 in 2010.
After the 2010 season, the board discontinued the fees, and visitation shot back up to 12,326 in 2011 and 15,662 last year.
"We should be charging fees over there," said Bob Camicia, Gills Creek District supervisor. "We now charge fees elsewhere (for recreation)."
Burnette said the expense to operate the beach was $34,960 last year, which includes a seasonal maintenance worker and lifeguards. The beach was open 92 days last year.
Camicia recommended a $1 fee for this year, going to $2 for 2014. But other supervisors said the fee should be at least $2 to help offset the cost of having someone there to collect the money.
Burnette said a $2 fee is estimated to bring in about $15,000, depending on the number of visitors. That estimate is calculated on the basis of attendance being around 7,700 for the season with the beach area open for 74 days.
A $3 fee, he said, should bring in about $12,000, assuming attendance would drop to around 4,000.
Supervisors approved a motion by a 6-1 vote to start the $2 fees this year and increase them to $3 in 2014. Camicia opposed the motion.
The beach area is open on weekends when school is in session and every day when school is out.
The number of days open will drop to 74 because Franklin Schools open earlier in August this year than before.
Smith Mountain Lake Community Park is located on Parkway Avenue, east of Scruggs Road.