Town to eliminate park sticker fees

Just about year after introducing a park sticker fee, the town is eliminating that $5 sticker charge for Trumbull residents, according to First Selectman Timothy Herbst.

“What Parks and Recreation was trying to do was laudable,” Herbst said of charging for parking stickers. “We have received a lot of complaints of out-of-town residents abusing the system and other towns have fees much higher. But looking forward, I don’t see a need for the fee.”

Herbst said he has spoken to members of the Parks and Recreation Commission and the finance director about eliminating the sticker fee, which started last spring. Entrance to town parks remained free and open to the public, but if residents wanted to park, they needed the sticker on their vehicle. This season, the stickers won’t be going away, but they won’t come with a fee, Herbst said.

The fee system had led to some complaints, Director of Recreation Mary Markham said last April. Sticker fees were also criticized by members of the Board of Finance during a budget meeting last March and criticized by local Democrats during a special election to the Board of Finance last summer.

“The fee is designed to cover the cost of the sticker itself and the distribution,” Markham said last spring. “It is not designed to make any extra revenue.”

Parks Chairman Robert Ferrigno also said in April that the stickers were a good way to ensure residents were getting the best access to local parks.

“The commission and the department have determined that between 1,800 to 2,000 out-of-town residents use our park system between Memorial Day and Labor Day,” Ferrigno wrote last spring. “It is also significant to note that many other neighboring municipalities have a fee for a park sticker, and in many instances, those fees are much greater than [those of] the town of Trumbull.”

On Tuesday, Herbst said the town will aim to charge a fee for out-of-town visitors to park their cars and he would like to see that revenue cover the cost of making and distributing the stickers to residents. He said enforcement would be up to park rangers, whom he is asking to collaborate with local police.

“I would like Chief Lombardo to work with park rangers so there is a better line of communication open to help enforce and ensure we are staying on top of that,” Herbst said.

Trumbull parks are a source of pride for the community, Herbst said, and while he has heard a few complaints about stickers, he has also heard from some who thought it was a reasonable charge. However, the first selectman said he would like to take some of the burden off town residents, who are dealing with rising state taxes.

“Our residents are feeling the squeeze,” Herbst said.