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June 25, 2013

City beach revenues lagging

City revenues already lag well behind last year

Beachgoers flooded Gloucester’s sandy spots this past weekend, and they have on other weekend days, filling lots well before noon.

But beach parking revenues are still the lowest Gloucester has seen at this point in the season since 2009, leaving city officials hoping for more sunshine and a brighter financial picture.

After a bustling weekend at Gloucester’s three paid parking beaches, Good Harbor Beach, Wingaersheek, and Stage Fort Park, the city had pulled in about $222,000 from beachgoers paying to park. Yet the city had earned about $367,000 by the same time last year, according to city Department of Public Works records.

Assistant Public Works Director Mark Cole said beach erosion is most noticeable at Good Harbor Beach, where storms washed out the sand that used to create a nearly level walk from the dunes to the water. But, he said that sand has already started to come back in, so beach revenues are likely to once again depend more on weather than anything else.

“If you look at numbers from the previous years, they’re a lot higher. That just means we had sunnier weekends,” Cole said. “There’s still time. Good weather this weekend and next weekend would definitely put us back up on pace.”

Though Mayor Carolyn Kirk had carried springtime worries of winter storm erosion negatively affecting beach revenues, a summer dip this past weekend dispelled her fears, making her confident too that this year’s revenues could catch up.

“I swam at Good Harbor and at the low tide had to walk out really far, farther than I think I’ve ever had to, in order to just dunk. That sand is what gets churned up and is eventually coming back up to the beach,” Kirk said. “It was a good sign this weekend that so much of the beach was back. There was plenty of space for bathers and picnics and towels.”

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