Parking Fees To Jump 50 Percent At Gateway National Recreation Area This Summer

Parking fees at two areas in Gateway National Recreation Area will jump 50 percent this summer as National Park Service officials look for additional revenues to help maintain the NRA and its units.

At the NRA's Sandy Hook Unit, a popular beach getaway in the New York-New Jersey Metropolitan Area, parking fees will go from $10 per vehicle to $15. If you drive a rig longer than 20-feet, you'll have to hand over $30 to park at Sandy Hook. Season parking passes will increase from $50 to $75 per vehicle, while oversized vehicle passes will now cost $150.

You can avoid the fees if you show up after 5 p.m.

At Jacob Riis Park in Queens, daily parking fees will increase from $5 to $10, with oversized vehicles to be charged $20 per day. Season parking passes will now cost $65 for most vehicles and $130 for oversized vehicles. If you show up after 6 p.m., you can avoid the fees.

"The public spoke and Gateway listened," said Superintendent Linda Canzanelli, noting that the parking fee increases at Sandy Hook in Monmouth County, New Jersey, are half of what was originally proposed last summer.

"These modest fee increases will help the park maintain visitor services while keeping outdoor recreation affordable for working families," she said. "A season pass costs about the same as a night at the movies for a family of four, but it buys you a whole summer of fun at the beach."

The increases mark the first increase at Sandy Hook since 2001 and the fourth since parking fees were first established by Gateway in 1983. At Jacob Riis Park, the increase is the first one since 2004.

NRA officials say the new parking fees compare favorably with state and local beaches near both Sandy Hook and Jacob Riis Park, where the charge is usually per person rather than per vehicle. As in the past, daily parking passes will be good for the day of purchase only.

Since this is a parking fee rather than an entrance fee, it is still free of charge to visit non-beach areas. This includes access to the Sandy Hook Lighthouse and Fort Hancock, Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn, Fort Wadsworth in Staten Island and Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge in Queens. Holders of the federal Senior Pass or Access Pass receive a 50 percent discount on parking fees.

Parking fees collected by Gateway have paid for hundreds of improvement projects at Sandy Hook, Jacob Riis Park and areas throughout Gateway. Here is a sample:

* Operations: Lifeguards, visitor protection, maintenance of visitor facilities.

* Expanding the docking facility at Sandy Hook.

* Rehabilitation of campgrounds at Floyd Bennett Field.

* Shoreline monitoring at Sandy Hook.

* Rehabilitation of the Ryan Visitor Center at Floyd Bennett Field.

* Paving the Multi-Use Path at Sandy Hook.

* Repairing the Boardwalk railing at Jacob Riis Park.

* Sand Slurry beach replenishment at Sandy Hook.

* Kayaking and sailing public programs.

* Rehabilitation of Frank Charles Park in Queens.

Season parking passes will be available for purchase at Sandy Hook beginning Monday, April 16, and at Jacob Riis Park beginning the weekend before Memorial Day.