Beach parking revenue spikes during pandemic

Joseph Prezioso/File photo/People packed the sand on June 26 at Good Harbor Beach in Gloucester, most with plenty of space between themselves and other groups because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. 

The global COVD-19 pandemic put a halt to most summer traditions, but visiting the beach wasn't one of them. The popularity of being in the sand, sun and sea lead to the city of Gloucester raking in beach parking revenue this summer. 

The final number for fiscal 2020’s beach parking revenue — $1,709,737 —far exceeded past summers. Fiscal 2019 saw $1,482,655 in parking revenue collected and the previous high was $1,430,492, according to an Excel sheet shared with the Times by city Chief Financial Officer John Dunn.

Fiscal 2020 ended on June 30 this year, and beach parking revenue for fiscal 2021 is already at $1,359,166 prior to Sept. 30.  

“A couple of things happened here,” said Dunn, explaining the growth of beach parking revenue in fiscal 2020. Dunn pointed to the city raising parking rates to $35 at Good Harbor and Wingaersheek beaches, the sunny weather, and the fact people had nothing else going on due to the pandemic. 

“How many parents said 'Let’s go to the beach' in the middle of the week?” he said, noting children weren’t in school in May or June because of school closures because of COVID-19. “That probably didn’t happen in past years because kids didn’t get home until later. There was a different cycle.”

Beach sticker revenue, however, was light for fiscal 2020 as all sales to non-residents of Gloucester were nixed. 

Actual beach sticker revenue for fiscal 2020 totaled to $140,824 where the previous year it finished at $311,943. 

“What happens next season, if we are selling out of town stickers, I expect that to back up to where it was,” Dunn said. 

Where the city will come out in beach revenue this time next year is unsure, but one thing is for sure — things would look a lot different if Dunn knew. 

“If I had a crystal ball that was accurate I wouldn’t be here,” Dunn said. “I would be retired.”

Taylor Ann Bradford can be reached at 978-675-2705 or tbradford@gloucestertimes.com.

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