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Got questions on Pasco's parks fee? We've got answers

As the county steps up enforcement of the $2 parking fee at 11 county parks, readers have asked many questions about the program's fine points. Here are answers to some of the most common queries:

Do handicapped people have to pay to park?

No. Anyone with a valid handicap license plate or windshield placard can park in any spot for free.

Annual passes cost $60. Is there a senior discount?

Not currently. County parks director Rick Buckman said he is considering offering a 65-and-older discount at some point, but he wants a better sense of how much money the program will generate now that it is fully in place. He is also considering a six-month pass for snowbirds.

How do people apply for an annual pass?

Buy a pass at one of three locations: West Pasco Government Center, 8731 Citizens Drive, Ste. 230, New Port Richey; Central Pasco Professional Center, 4111 Land O'Lakes Blvd., Ste. 202, Land O'Lakes; East Pasco Government Center, 14236 Sixth St., Ste. 203, Dade City.

Or, you can download an application at tinyurl.com/parkfee and mail it to the Parks and Recreation office in Land O'Lakes. Checks and money orders are accepted. Please don't mail cash.

Why is the fee charged at only 11 parks? Why aren't they all included?

Buckman said many smaller parks would not generate enough fees to justify including them in the program. Also, many visitors to sports-centered parks like Veterans Memorial Park already pay other charges like league fees.

Are there any exceptions? Free parking on Sunday?

The fee is collected whenever the parks are open to the public, including Sundays. There is one exception: Parking is free after 5 p.m. at Hudson Beach, to let people enjoy the sunset.

What if I don't pay?

Some parks employees are now trained and authorized to write $20 citations. The fee goes up if the citation goes unpaid.

What happens if the pay station runs out of envelopes?

Visitors should try to find a staff member or volunteer who can locate an envelope. Parking enforcement officials also have the option of leaving a warning envelope that allows visitors to pay the $2 fee when they get back to their car.

Until now, officials relied on the Sheriff's Office to write parking tickets. How many citations were issued last year?

Deputies wrote 21 tickets, all at Anclote River Park.

Lee Logan can be reached at llogan@tampabay.com or (727) 869-6236.

.fast facts

Parks that charge the fee

Since November 2010, Pasco County has been charging a $2 parking fee at 11 parks to help offset declining property tax revenue. Kiosks at the parks provide envelopes so visitors can place their money in special canisters. The envelope includes a slip for visitors to leave in their car, showing they've paid.

The fee is in effect at the following parks:

• Anclote River Park

• Anclote Gulf Park

• Crews Lake Park

• Eagle Point Park

• Jay B. Starkey Wilderness Park

• Moon Lake Park

• Robert K. Rees Park (better known as Green Key Beach)

• Robert J. Strickland Memorial Park (better known as Hudson Beach)

• Suncoast Parkway Trail Head

• Key Vista Nature Park

• Withlacoochee River Park

Got questions on Pasco's parks fee? We've got answers 01/28/12 [Last modified: Saturday, January 28, 2012 3:09pm]

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