For the first time in decades, nonresidents can visit the beaches in Greenwich.
A landmark lawsuit broke down barriers at the exclusive beaches, which were to begin admitting visitors Monday, the first day of the annual beach season.
Change came with a price, however. The town’s new policy charges out-of-towners $10 admission and $20 to park for the day. Residents can buy a seasonal beach pass for $20 and park for free. Parking stickers will be issued to residents.
Stamford resident Brenden Leydon sued for access in 1995 after he was denied entrance to Greenwich Point while jogging. The state Supreme Court ruled in favor of Leydon last summer, citing First Amendment issues. The justices said Greenwich could not prohibit Leydon from entering the park because it is a public forum.
Leydon, who has not been to the Greenwich beach since the landmark ruling, called the new fees “steep,” and said he is not sure whether to sue over the new policy.
“I’m leaning toward just seeing how this policy works,” Leydon told the Greenwich Time.
Local officials have vowed that they will try their best to usher in the new policy without inconveniencing residents. Signs displaying the new policy have been erected at the beach entrances.
“I know people are going to say next week, ‘It’s too confusing — I don’t want to do this,'” said Joseph Siciliano, director of the town’s Department of Parks and Recreation.
For decades, Greenwich restricted its beaches to residents. The town cited a special act passed by the General Assembly in 1919 and reaffirmed in 1955 that grants the town the ability to establish parks “for the use of the inhabitants” of the town. Leydon’s lawsuit argued that the residents-only policy violates the doctrine of public trust, in which municipalities hold parkland on behalf of all the state’s citizens