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Boaters react to Collier's price hike in launch permits, beach parking

Posted at 7:46 PM, Jan 03, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-04 07:06:57-05

NAPLES, Fla. — With the new year comes new fees in Collier County. On Jan. 1, the county began charging more for beach parking and boat launches.

Collier County commissioners passed the raises at their last meeting of 2021, saying the increase was needed for more upkeep at the beaches and marinas.

When Amber Ramsay and her son, Andrew, launched their new boat from the Cocohatchee River Park Marina on Monday, they had to pay $10. That’s two dollars more than they would have had to pay last week.

“If that’s what it is, what it takes to keep the facilities as nice and clean as they are, then I guess that’s what it takes,” Ramsay said.

Parking at county beaches and ramps is $10 a day, up from $8. However, Collier County residents still can get a free beach parking sticker from the county. The parking charge is only for non-residents and those without the sticker.

The biggest change comes at the county’s marinas. The cost for single-day boat launches and annual permits have more than doubled. The cost is $267 for an annual permit, up from $107 a year ago.

Commercial boat launch permits have gone up even more. The county is using a tiered permit system, charging more for each permit a business obtains.

The money will be used to have more security at the boat ramps, which commissioner Rick LoCastro said is desperately needed.

“Our boat marinas are busting at the seams,” LoCastro said. “One of the ways you control that population is by boat permit fees, but also be supervision and having people on site.”

LoCastro said the the county already has hired a dock master to patrol the marinas and check permits.

Richard Thompson works at the Cocohatchee River Park Marina. He said the reaction to the raised fees in the first few days has been mixed.

“Most people took them in stride,” Thompson said. “A couple were a little disappointed. When I explained why (the fees went up), they seemed to take that pretty well.”

LoCastro said Collier County’s beach and boat fees still are lower than other cities in Florida. The commissioner also emphasized that Collier County residents still can park at beaches and boat ramps for free, and that getting more money from non-residents reduces the amount of taxes needed for upkeep.