GREENWICH, Conn. Dust last years sand off those beach bags, put on your new bathing suit and head to the beach this Memorial Day Weekend for the official start of the summer season in Greenwich. Residents must have their passes before they head to Greenwich Point, Byram Beach and Pool, Great Captain Island or Island Beach this summer.
Beach passes are required from May 1 to Oct. 31 at Greenwich Point and Byram Beach. Beginning this week, beach passes from last year will no longer be valid, and all residents will need to renew and reactivate their cards for the 2012 season. Season passes for all residents ages 16 to 64 is $30. Day passes for nonresidents cost $5 and a daily parking pass for nonresidents is $20. Applications for renewals cannot be processed the same day.
Lifeguards will be on duty at Greenwich beaches from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Ferry service will become available starting June 9 for both Island Beach and Great Captains Island. Bathing beach season on Great Captains Island will run through Sept. 9 and through Sept. 16 for Island Beach.
Throughout the season, Greenwich beachgoers can find out whether the shore will be open to swimming after rain through the Department of Health and Department of Parks & Recreation.
Water samples are taken weekly at Greenwich Point, Byram Beach and the island beaches, and each beach has its own policy when it comes to prohibiting swimming after rain. The only exceptions to this policy are the island beaches, because they do not appear to be affected by any one factor such as rainfall.
In June, Greenwich Point remains open unless there is excessive rainfall. But in July, rainfall greater than 1.5 inches of rain will close recreational swimming for one day. During August and September, one inch of rainfall will close swimming for one day.
At Byram Beach, swimming will be off limits automatically for one day if just a half-inch of rain falls. If there are multiple storms, each beach will close for one full day after the rain has stopped.
Doug Serafin, director of the towns laboratory, said beaches are closed only if water is found to be contaminated with bacteria called enteroccoccus, which may potentially harm people in the form of hepatitis A, typhoid or salmonella. Samples are taken at three sites along each beach to determine whether levels are elevated. If elevated levels of enteroccoccus are found, it may indicate sewage.
The samples are placed into cells that break down agents to make a fluorescent end product, which is then placed under a fluorescent light. If cells are contaminated with enteroccoccus, the water will glow a bright blue. Serafin said if the number of blue cells that are fluorescing reaches a certain number, the beach fails.
Call the Division of Environmental Services Beach Hotline at 203-622-7855 for the most accurate and up-to-date status information before you take a dip in the Sound.
Beach passes can be obtained at these Greenwich locations:
Greenwich Town Hall, 101 Field Point Road: Open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 3:45 p.m.
Eastern Greenwich Civic Center, 90 Harding Road: Open daily 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Bendheim Western Greenwich Civic Center, 449 Pemberwick Road: Beginning May 28, open weekends and holidays only, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Check out the attached PDF document for the ferry schedule, beach locations, summer events, as well as the daily admission fees for parks, parking, ferry and tennis courts.
For more information on park, beach and tennis passes go to the Parks and Recreation website.
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