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It may feel an awful lot like winter, but the Madison Beach & Recreation Department is almost ready for summer. With Memorial Day just around the corner, town officials report that the new electronic beach pass system will likely launch this week.
In past, residents would go to the Beach & Rec Office at town campus to purchase a physical beach pass. Under this new system, the license plate on a car becomes the beach pass, similar to how the state parks run their parking system. Madison residents will go online to register their license plate with the system and pay the standard price for the pass.
Then, when a resident goes to the beach, there will no longer be a gate guard checking plates, which town officials hope will cut down on lines. Town employees—the normal Beach & Rec summer staff—will instead patrol the parking lot with a handheld license plate reader that will scan the plate to determine if that car is registered with the town system as a beach pass purchaser.
For visitors who don’t live in town, signs will be posted with a website directing visitors to go on their phone, register their car on location, and pay the daily or hourly parking fee.
Complus Data provides the system. The town had no upfront cost to bring this digital system online; the company providing the software and license plate readers takes a percentage of any permits issued to cover costs. First Selectman Tom Banisch said the town has formalized the contract with Complus for the system.
“We signed the contract, which is what we needed to have the software completed,” he said. “There was work done on the software over the weekend, so we are hoping that we can start signing people up this week. As far as implementation, we are there. This week is the start.”
Price of seasonal passes is the same this year and Madison residents can still buy daily passes for guests. Additionally, while this new digital system would hopefully allow for longer hours in terms of monitoring in future, Beach & Rec Director Scot Erskine said it was decided not to go too fast too soon this first year.
“We are only going to be checking until 5 p.m.,” he said. “The commission felt that we should ease into the new system and try to keep it as much the same as last season so as not to confuse people. If it goes well, then next year we can look at things like maybe expanding the hours.”
Erskine said Complus will also manage any parking pass violation tickets. The Madison Police Department is not involved and the system is only checking for the pass.
“All we are looking for is if you paid for parking,” he said. “If you don’t have it or the time is up and you haven’t paid more, they decided on one warning and then if it occurs again, then you are going to get a ticket. The ticket is a $40 ticket and Complus will send them a notice.”
Erskine said tickets issued have all the rules on the back going over how to appeal or pay the ticket. As the system prepares to launch, Banisch said more information will be available to residents.
“We are going to have a big outreach effort,” he said. “This is normally the time that people would start buying their passes, so the good part is people don’t have to come in, they can buy online.”
One common concern raised is while this is the digital age, some people are not comfortable or familiar using technology. Banisch said those who do not want to go online can still come to the Beach & Rec Department and someone will assist them in purchasing the permit. The office at the Surf Club will also be staffed seven days a week starting May 25 so residents can also stop in there for assistance.
For 2019 beach passes, taxpayers up to the age of 59 are charged $40 for first permit and $20 for each additional vehicle in their name. Seniors are charged $10 per vehicle. Veterans are charged $10 for the first car and $20 for any additional vehicle.
The link to purchase the beach passes should be live this week. Erskine said residents can check the town website www.madisonct.org for the link and come into the office or call with questions.
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