NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

September 26, 2013

Salisbury says state is lowballing beach's value

(Continued)

After listening to Gorniewicz discuss the valuation drop of 80 percent to $5 million, Selectman Freeman Condon was amazed.

“Doesn’t that seem irrational?” he asked Gorniewicz, who nodded her agreement.

She told Condon she wanted to bring the Department of Revenue an aerial photograph of Salisbury Beach State Reservation, along with the total revenue the state takes in every year from the well-frequented state park. Although the state makes a lucrative income from the reservation, Corniewicz said, Salisbury bears most of the financial burden in traffic, police, fire and medical services it provides due to the huge influx of people the state park brings to town.

The Department of Conservation and Recreation owns and runs the reservation, and according spokesman Bill Hickey, the state doesn’t actually keep track of attendance at the parks. But during the last fiscal year, Salisbury Beach State Reservation was the highest earning of DCR’s four ocean beach parks that charge fees for entry. Some parks, like Revere Beach, do not charge, Hickey said.

In fiscal 2013, Salisbury took in a total of $526,162 in parking, camping and permit fees, with parking responsible for most of that with $478,066. The state also has a $2 surcharge on both camping and parking at Salisbury, which goes into a separate Salisbury Beach Preservation Trust Fund, to help with preserving the beach’s natural resources.

The other four state reservations are Horseneck Beach with $460,705 in revenues, Nantasket Beach, $234,940, and Scusset Beach, $216,610.

The slash in value in Salisbury is even more confusing, Gorniewicz said, when comparing the value DOR places on Maudslay State Park in Newburyport.

“Maudslay State Park— which isn’t oceanfront but about the same size — is valued at $20 million,” Gorniewicz said.

Gorniewicz said what leads to this problem every four years is the rationale the state uses to value land, which they classify in only three categories: prime, excess or unbuildable.

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