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Back You are here: Home News Local and State News Local Carolina Beach Council Discusses Freeman Park Pass Discount

Carolina Beach Council Discusses Freeman Park Pass Discount

The Carolina Beach Town Council discussed reinstating a discount for people who purchase annual  vehicle passes for Freeman Park early in the year.

By WILLARD KILLOUGH III
Managing Editor

CAROLINA BEACH - The Carolina Beach Town Council held a special called meeting on October 1st, to get an annual update from their parking management contractor Lanier Parking.
During the update Councilman Steve Shuttleworth inquired about reinstating a discount for people purchasing vehicle passes early in the year at a discount.
The Carolina Beach Town Council voted in October of 2012 to eliminate discounts for people purchasing annual vehicle passes to Freeman Park prior to April. Rather than getting the discount rate of $60, everyone now pays $100 a year. The overall purpose was to generate revenues of around $400,000 a year to help fund beach nourishment and inlet maintenance projects.
 Freeman Park, located beyond the end of Canal Drive on the Northern End of Pleasure Island, is largely outside of the Town's jurisdiction. They have authority to manage the area as a park. That was granted to them by the New Hanover County Board of Commissioners some years ago. There is a fee charged for vehicle access to drive on the beachfront within the park. The Town, by it's own admission, doesn't charge people to walk into the park. They can only charge for four-wheel drive vehicle access. Permit applications are not required for daily passes. Daily passes may be purchased for $20.00 at the entrance of Freeman Park. Weekend passes are available at $40 for 2 days and $50 for 3 days. Credit cards are accepted.
During the October 1st, meeting Shuttleworth explained, "There has been the discussion come back up about a short period to offer a discounted ticket" where people can purchase a vehicle pass at a discount for a short period of time such as a couple of weeks in December or January and only at Town Hall or at the Parking Office across the street.
He said, "We are trying to come up with our policies for Freeman Park next year."
He said there was some fear last year that offering them only at Town Hall would swamp personnel with thousands of people buying passes.
He said, "If I look at the 2012, 2013, at $100 a piece that's 400 to 600 right?"
Shuttleworth said the idea of selling discounted passes online was something the Town wanted to avoid.
Councilman Tom Bridges said, "The advantage would be if we did it without being online that the locals would have better access to it. You couldn't just say it's just local pricing because you can't do that. You can't do that. We could make the period of purchase for the discounted price a shorter period of time."
Last year the Town voted to eliminate the discount for early purchases of Freeman Park passes. This year 583 locals purchased vehicle passes. The year prior to eliminating the discount, 777 locals purchased a pass.
Shuttleworth said 2,700 fewer passes were sold overall.
He said, "That would be the anticipation that a thousand people or less will probably come from the middle of December to the first week of January and give $60 for a pass. But it would be an opportunity to offer that discount. We wouldn't want to do it online."
He said locations would probably be restricted to Town Hall and the Parking Office, but the Town could discuss it with the businesses that sell the passes throughout the year.
He said, "It's not that we don't want the vendors to have that opportunity, we are just trying to come up with a creative way that we can offer a discount that primarily benefits people locally. Since we can't just come out and say you have to be local to buy the discount. If we limit the opportunity, time and location, most locals will probably figure out how to get here in that four week period."
The Town was previously advised they could not charge more to people who don't live in Carolina Beach for access to the park.
Offering a limited discount opportunity without the option to purchase passes online at a discount would permit primarily locals to purchase the passes at a discount.