FAIRFIELD, Conn. – Fairfield’s restricted smoking rules at Jennings Beach are now permanent, but the town has no plans to extend the program to its other public beaches, the Parks and Recreation Commission ruled last month.
The commission, which oversees Fairfield’s parks and beaches, set up a trial program to offer a smoke-free option for families visiting the town’s beaches. The town set up designated smoking areas with butt containers at the edge of Jennings Beach, and declared the rest of the beach off-limits for smoking from Memorial Day to Labor Day.
After a two-summer pilot program, the commission decided to make the rule permanent by a unanimous vote at its January meeting. The rule will not cover the off-peak months of September through May.
Smoking will still be allowed without restrictions at Fairfield’s four other public shoreline beaches and Lake Mohegan Commission member Barbara Rifkin asked if the policy could be expanded with support. But Parks and Recreation Director Gerry Lombardo said that the plan would put too much of a burden on lifeguards, who are tasked with enforcing the rules.
Lombardo said, however, that he started working with the Fairfield Police to organize a Beach Patrol to help enforce beach rules on alcohol and other policies. That group of guards could also help with new non-smoking rules in the future, he said.
At the same meeting the Commission also approved a program that it hopes will cut down on overcrowding at Jennings. The town will raise fees for buses to $100 each starting this summer.
About 40 buses visit Jennings Beach each year, mostly from summer camps and other organizations. Lombardo explained that the raised fees might discourage some groups from visiting Jennings, cutting down on visitors to the popular beach. The new rate will go into effect at the start of the summer season on Memorial Day weekend.