For years, people who have fished off the pier at Scusset Beach in Sagamore have had to pay a parking fee.
Until this year, that fee was $7. This year it was increased to $9. However, paying for use of the pier could soon be a thing of the past.
The Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation leases the pier from the Army Corps of Engineers. The lease expired in July, and both sides are currently in negotiations on a new agreement. If the Army Corps has its way, people accessing the fishing pier would be able to do that free of charge.
“That is one of the things we will be discussing with them,” said Timothy J. Dugan, media relations officer for the Army Corps.
Mr. Dugan said it was the understanding of the Army Corps that the department of conservation and recreation would only charge for use of the beach and camping areas at Scusset Beach. He added, however, that the lease is unclear on this point and does not stipulate the specifics, with regard to parking charges.
“It was never spelled out in the lease, what they could or would charge for parking,” he said.
The Scusset Beach fish pier was permitted to be built in 1956. Records show that construction of the pier was authorized by the Secretary of the Army on July 5, 1956, and the building permit was signed by then-Massachusetts Governor John A. Volpe on August 10 that year. It is 296 feet long and situated 60 feet from the main high tide line.
William F. Hickey of the department of conservation and recreation confirmed that his department is in contract negotiations with the Army Corps and charging for access to the fish pier is one item on the discussion agenda.
Mr. Hickey said the department has always charged for access to the Scusset Beach area, whether someone wanted to use the beach, campground or fish pier. He said the state passed legislation earlier this year to increase the fee. He added that the parking fee is only in place from Memorial Day through Labor Day, and between the hours of approximately 8 AM to 5:30 PM, when the guardhouse is manned.
“If you’re doing some night fishing and go after they’re collecting, there’s no charge. The same if you fish early in the morning,” he said.
He also mentioned that there is a senior pass available for people over the age of 62, which allows older residents free access to the Scusset Beach area.
Bourne Board of Selectmen member Donald E. (Jerry) Ellis said that everyone should be able to fish for free at the pier. He called the charge imposed by the state “terrible, disgusting.”
“I’m losing my patience with the commonwealth,” he said.
A longtime fisherman, Mr. Ellis said that he fully supports the Army Corps in its effort to have the fee done away with.
“I would absolutely think that would be the best thing in the world,” he said.