3 11 NB Boat Ramp

A view of the New Buffalo boat launch during the summer of 2020.

NEW BUFFALO — The City of New Buffalo Park and Harbor Commission recommended revised fees for public beach parking and use of the boat launch during its March 4 regular meeting.

Following discussion, the commission voted 4-0 to recommend the City Council adopt the following beach lot rates: $15 per day and $7.50 per half day (with the full-day rate rising to $20 from July 1 to Aug. 16 before going back to $15 after that).

The rates in effect for the summer of 2020 were $12 per day at the beach or $5 for three hours.

New Buffalo Parks Director Kristen D’Amico said the latest revenue at the $12 rate for the beach parking lot (excluding the overflow lot used mainly by kayakers) was $102,372; a number that could rise above $150,000 under the new rates. She said the total revenue figure of over $230,000 includes all parking tickets, $5 transactions, overflow parking and other sources of money.

D’Amico noted that the number of transactions made at the daily rate last year (8,531) was far less than the number of transactions at the $5 rate (25,697). The overflow lot totaled 2,800 transactions.

Interim City Manager Rich Killips said the lower rate has provided “a lot of turnover in the beach lot,” which has been good for the concessions there, adding that those paying the three-hour amount tended to use the beach lot later in the day.

D’Amico said the plan for 2021 is to pull the covers off the parking lot machines April 1 and begin “implementation of the summer parking fee enforcement.”

Also recommended to the City Council during the March 4 meeting were 2021 boat launch ramp rates (which D’Amico said haven’t been raised in a long time). The new rates favored by the Planning Commission are: (in-state) $10 daily for boats 27 feet and under; $30 per day for vessels over 27 feet; season pass $75 for 27 feet and under; and $100 over 27 feet; (out-of state) $20 per day under 27 feet, $40 daily over 27 feet; season pass $100 for 27 feet and under; and $125 over 27 feet.

The previous in-state rates had been $7 daily for boats less than 27 feet and $25 for those larger that that for a day. Out-of-state daily fees were $12 for vessels under 27 feet and $25 for larger boats.

D’Amico also said the city is trying to move to an electronic pay system at the boat ramp.

Earlier in the March 4 Planning Commission meeting, Debbie Schmidt (a member of the Lifeguard Committee) asked for an update on the city’s lifeguard hiring and budget status

D’Amico said as of March 4 five lifeguards have been hired – three returning from last year (new head lifeguard Gavin Ales, Evan Moyer and Alex Tellez) plus two new ones – one of whom D’Amico said is new to lifeguarding, with more being sought with to reach the goal of hiring seven.

She said the entire group is slated to go through the Red Cross certification process once the Bridgman Aquatic Center re-opens.

D’Amico said budget numbers won’t be finalized until the City Council holds budget hearings at the end of April/beginning of May and adopts a budget.

There was discussion of having the area around the “Effervescence” sculpture at its new home in Oselka Park landscaped similar to the for downtown area with perennials and grasses.

The sculpture, dedicated in memory of Dan Donnelly in 2017, was recently moved from the riverfront area near the public beach due to high water levels in the Galien River.

And D’Amico told planners that Audrey Tuszynski has been hired to manage the city’s Municipal Marina.

“We’re changing the way we run it down there. We’re going to make it a or more boater-friendly. A lot more concierge style … so that when they come in if the need us to make them a dinner reservation we can take care of that … so it’s a lot more like a vacation.”

She added that the marina has its own logo now.

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