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New $5 fees at Fort De Soto, Fred Howard parks take effect Jan. 3, 2012

Starting Tuesday, visitors will have to pay $5 a day to park at nationally known Fort De Soto Park.

Pinellas County will charge motorists the $5 fee per vehicle when it opens the Tierra Verde park at 7 a.m. that day, parks director Paul Cozzie said.

Similar fees will begin Jan. 3 at Fred Howard Park in Tarpon Springs.

The parks are popular because of their world-renowned beaches. County officials decided to impose the fees to have more money for maintenance.

The start date coincides with equipment being set and avoids paying county employees overtime for the New Year's holiday.

The county will use a pay plaza near Fort DeSoto's entrance, so drivers will pay the state a highway toll, then pay the county at another gate to enter the park. Meters will be used at Fred Howard.

A similar fee at Sand Key Park in Clearwater has been in place for several months.

People who pay for camping or boat-trailer parking are exempt, as are bicyclists and pedestrians.

The county offers $75 annual passes instead of daily fees. For people age 65 and over, an annual pass costs $55. People who can document they receive public assistance will pay $37.50.

Friends of Fort DeSoto Park will offer passes for free if people volunteer to help maintain the park, Cozzie said.

New $5 fees at Fort De Soto, Fred Howard parks take effect Jan. 3, 2012 12/29/11 [Last modified: Thursday, December 29, 2011 9:13pm]
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