$10 parking fee mulled for Falmouth, Aquia beach parks

Stafford County leaders are exploring the possibility of charging users of two popular riverside parks $10 per car to enter the parks.

This summer, parking lots at Historic Port of Falmouth Park on the Rappahannock River, and Aquia Landing on the Potomac River have been full. While many put off summer vacations to beach destinations because of the coronavirus, locally, the beaches have been packed with users.

That has led to vehicles being parked on private properties, as well as alongside narrow streets leading into the parks, gumming up traffic flow.

From county documents:

The issue of overcrowding and the parking challenges associated with heavy use of Aquia Landing and Historic Port of Falmouth have led to discussions by the Board of Supervisors on potential actions to alleviate these challenges.

At the June 16, 2020 Board of Supervisors’ meeting, it was requested that a recommendation be brought to the Board to authorize and implement parking fees at these two locations.

At the July 7th Infrastructure Committee meeting, the recommendation of $5 per vehicle was discussed and it was requested that the recommended fee be revised to include the cost of a Sheriff’s Deputy at each site and this information be brought forward to a future meeting. of

The estimated cost of having a deputy on the site has doubled the cost estimate for the project. It’s expected to cost as much as $95,000 to implement the parking recommendations, including having a sheriff’s deputy on site.

At today’s meeting of the Board of Supervisors Instrastuture Committee, elected leaders expressed reservations.

“I don’t think a parking fee is going to solve the problem,” said Hartwood District Supervisor Gary Snellings. “People are going to park nearby and walk-in.”

Garrisonville District Mark Dudenhefer suggested using electronic parking meters at both parks, where users can walk up to a box, enter a space number, and pay to park. Sheriff’s deputies could patrol the lots once an hour and issue parking tickets for those who haven’t paid, he added.

There was also a discussion of fencing off the parks and charging a per-per person user fee. While Snellings favored the idea, Dudenehfer opposed it.

Ultimately, Supervisors asked the county’s parks and recreation staff to go back and consider the recommendations of the committee and bring back a new plan to control parking at the parks.

Aquia Landing is located at 2846 Brooke Point Road, at the confluence of the Potomac River and Aquia Creek. The park is a popular gathering place for picnics, and beach access.

The Historic Port of Falmouth Park is located at 401 River Road on the Rappahannock River in Falmouth. The popular park draws visitors from across the region to swim in the river.

For the past two years, Supervisors have discussed closing Historic Port of Falmouth Park. Last fall, Supervisors were going to stop maintaining the park, which sits in a floodplain and is prone to regular flooding, and allows nature to reclaim the land.

However, the park was maintained open as planned for the summer season.

“This was going to be brought back to the Board of Supervisors, to show what the park looked like with growth, and then COVID hit and [those plans] evaporated,” said Falmouth District Supervisor Meg Bohmke.

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