MUSKEGON, Mich. (WOOD) — Beach goers may face new fees this summer at Pere Marquette Park in Muskegon after the city proposed adding paid parking kiosks.
The current plan calls for the addition of 16 parking kiosks and four kiosks at the boat launch.
“It’s something we’ve been researching for the past couple years. It costs us a lot of money to maintain the beach, upwards of half a million dollars,” Muskegon Planning Director Mike Franzak said. “We figured this would be a great way to continue to do so and offer such a great beach.”
Franzak says during the peak season, the beach easily sees hundreds of visitors every day. He says past studies done by the city have shown on a typical day, about 66% to 75% of people visiting are from out of the area.
Franzak says taxpayers in the city of Muskegon are the only group that pay to keep bathrooms clean, maintain the shore and the parking lot. The city hopes the kiosks will change that.
“Looking at it very conservatively and just the peak hours when we know the parking lot is full, we should net $120,000 a year, but it should be significantly more,” Franzak said.
The city says initial estimates put the cost of the kiosks at about $150,000. They say there’s also associated fees for data collection.
Initially, the city plans to use a “pay and display” method, meaning drivers will need to display a paper ticket on their dashboard for proof of parking payment. Once they can improve cell service, they hope to use a license input system.
The new parking fee would run visitors $5 daily and $7 on Saturdays. Muskegon residents would not be required to pay the fee. Residents will be able to get free passes to park at the beach.
While several people told News 8 crews they believe the potential parking fee is fair, others say they’re concerned it will deter visitors from coming to the park.
“You have to find a way to pay for the things we have but on the other note, I don’t think it’s a very good idea,” resident Renee Childers said. “It’s a beautiful beach and people come from all over and we want to keep it that way.”
The city will present this idea again at the February city commission meeting. It still has to be voted on.
If approved, they’ll begin rolling out the parking kiosks. The city hopes to have it all in place by Memorial Day weekend.