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Greenport trustees table vote on rate hikes; Carousel plans unpopular with village residents

Greenport trustees tabled a resolution to raise prices on recreational assets, including the Greenport Carousel, at a regular meeting last Monday night.

An initial resolution had proposed raising prices on the Greenport Carousel from $2 to $3 for a single ride. The tabled resolution from last Monday’s meeting noted that the cost for 15 tickets would rise from $20 to $30. Prices would also go up for the rates of stay at Mitchell Park Marina and McCann Campground.

“I was not at the work session when this was discussed. I have heard nothing but bad comments about that, that we’re damaging the kids and kids are not going to ride it as much,” Mayor George Hubbard said. 

He suggested raising the price to $2.50 instead of $3. “When we do the budget, we’ll try to find some more money elsewhere,” he added. “If we need to go up again we can.”

Trustees seemed to agree, especially following comments from village residents, that they should discuss changing the proposed rates at Mitchell Park Marina. 

Under the current proposal, additional charges after 5 p.m. would be eliminated. Sunday overnight stays from May 15-31 and Oct. 1-30 would increase another 50 cents per foot. From June 1 to Sept. 30, the charge for a day stay would increase by another dollar per foot. Friday and Saturday overnights would increase another 50 cents per foot. Sunday overnights, holidays and boats over 75 feet would all cost an additional dollar per foot.

The weekly rate for a trailer at the campground would rise by $25. Monthly and holiday rates would go up another $5 and the seasonal rate would increase by $200. Tent rates would remain the same.

Some village residents voiced concerns about the price raise for the carousel, noting the 50% increase seems drastic compared to the proposed hikes for the marina and campground. 

“Some poor guy takes his two kids to the carousel and you’re going to supplement your tax base with this poor guy?” said resident William Swiskey. “Maybe he doesn’t have that much money. The carousel is for the kids, it’s not to raise taxes.”

He suggested raising marina fees instead and pointed out that the carousel, outside of the pandemic, usually turns a large profit and is not the biggest expense in Mitchell Park. He questioned why the village needs to raise prices.

“Prices are going up on all services,” Mr. Hubbard responded. The price hikes are meant to offset any future tax increases, he said.

Greenport resident John Saladino questioned why the price rate increase for the carousel is so much higher than at the marina or campground.

“The carousel supports itself and the majority of people who ride it are local kids,” he said, adding that the village is “giving a break” to the tourist trade by not hiking prices as much at the campground or marina. “The local kids are the ones that are paying the most to help subsidize whether you guys need this money. I would encourage you guys not to raise it.”

Trustee Julia Robins said she is not in favor of raising prices for carousel rides. She noted that the raise is for money to go into the general fund, not just for maintenance of the carousel. 

“My understanding is that we have, over the years, put a fair amount of improvements into the carousel,” said Trustee Mary Bess Phillips. “We have equipment there that is antique, because it is an antique carousel, and there is going to come a point when … we’re going to have to reach into the general budget to pay for certain repairs.”

She noted that the village recently had to fund new equipment for the local ice-skating rink and said children from all over ride the carousel, not just locals. She said prices were raised at McCann Campground a few years ago but raising rates a little bit higher at Mitchell Marina could be an option.

“I have a little one coming up, she just turned one. She’s going to be wanting to ride that carousel,” she said. “I want to see it stay in existence and not break down, so I’m going to support the $3 increase.”

Trustee and deputy mayor Jack Martilotta said he has children who frequently ride the carousel and he appreciates “what a wonderful thing it is.”

“With that said, it is old. It requires maintenance. It will, at some point or another, require significant maintenance,” he said. “If that extra dollar spread out over every weekend for my kids to ride it allows us to better maintain it in order to prevent some sort of future expense, I’m in. And like I said, we ride that thing constantly. I do appreciate what you guys say, but I do think it’s a good investment.”

Trustee Peter Clarke said he doesn’t view the carousel as a “freestanding entity.” He said it’s integral to Mitchell Park and “as such, anything towards maintaining the park as well as the carousel is critical.” He supports the increase although he said he’s sympathetic to those who don’t. 

“I think that one of the mitigating factors we could take would be perhaps to look for more than one day where we subsidize the carousel and allow free rides,” he said, suggesting working with charities to make the carousel more available to people at a lower cost. 

Ms. Robins said she’s been talking with members of Friends of Mitchell Park to discuss ways to potentially subsidize rides for locals.