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As a candidate for first selectman, I have had many concerned citizens reach out to me to vent frustration, anger, and bewilderment over the new beach pass system. While the reasons for the switch have merit (eliminate traffic backlogs, increase revenue, and offer flexibility), the planning, implementation, and communication have all been extremely problematic. And the intention to enforce it by ticketing over the recent holiday weekend has caused distress among many who use our beaches for family time and entertaining guests. Let’s face it—while well-intentioned, the system roll-out has been a debacle.
Rather than penalizing taxpayers for government mishaps, I suggest the town allow any resident who receives a ticket over the summer to come to Town Hall and get it expunged, as long as they can show they purchased a pass at some point over the summer, even if bought after a ticket was issued. This will provide relief to those who are victims of a slow bureaucracy and incentivize those who have not yet purchased a pass to do so before the season ends.
Beach pass sales are down significantly as a result of the change. We need to somehow recapture that revenue, or we will be facing a meaningful budget gap. Town leaders also need to do an extensive, transparent post mortem, allowing the public to weigh in on whether the new system is a fit with Madison. What works in Fairfield County does not always work here.
If elected, I promise that any future changes to major programs such as this, things that touch the lives of so many of our citizens and involves our most important public assets, be fully vetted with the community, have a thorough roll-out and communication plan, and be beta tested before being fully implemented.
Democrat Peggy Lyons is seeking the office of first selectman in the November elections.
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