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Sunday, March 25 News

Line in the sand: Officials stress booze, grill and parking rules at beaches

People heading to the town's beaches for the long Memorial Day holiday weekend are being reminded by officials that alcohol and personal grills are not allowed.

While those beachfront prohibitions have been in place for many years, First Selectman Michael Tetreau said they will be a "point of emphasis" this summer.

"As Fairfield's beaches get more crowded, we want to make sure that everyone is safe," Tetreau said at a Tuesday press conference with Recreation Director Gerry Lombardo and Police Chief Gary MacNamara. "When we get larger crowds using our beaches, the grills and alcohol are a problem."

Lombardo said the town is installing additional cooking grills at the beaches, and moving them farther back from the picnic tables. The grills cannot be reserved and are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

"We're hoping people will share the grills," Lombardo said.

The personal grills brought to the beach are especially unwanted on the day of the July 4 fireworks, officials said, when Penfield and Jennings beaches are packed.

"They can create a safety hazard," MacNamara said.

MacNamara said alcohol on the beach was a prevalent issue in 2012, and police made sure to enforce the no-booze rule last summer, and will continue to do so this summer.

Violation of either the no grill or no alcohol rule could result in a $100 fine.

New parking fees at Jennings and Penfield beaches also will take effect this weekend.

Vehicles without a parking permit will be charged $50 weekends and holidays, and $20 during the week. The fee is charged if a car does not have a parking permit, whether or not the driver is a town resident.

Residents can purchase a parking sticker for $20 at the Parks and Recreation Department office on Mill Plain Road or online by visiting www.fairfieldct.org.

The number of vehicles without permits will be limited for the July 4 fireworks, Lombardo said, to 100 at Penfield Beach and 300 at Jennings Beach.

"Keep in mind, every year as the weather changes, behavior changes," MacNamara said. "Because of the weather being so cold and so dismal, there has not been a gradual awakening ... the time to get adjusted to those changes is condensed."