It will now cost out-of-towners $15 to park at Walnut and Gulf beaches during the beach season, instead of the $5 that had been charged for many years.

Milford’s Board of Aldermen voted at this month’s board meeting to raise the fee to put Milford more in line with other beach communities.

The city’s Park, Beach and Recreation Department looked at other communities like Stratford and Fairfield, “all up and down the shoreline,” said Mayor Ben Blake.

“Milford charges far and away the lowest,” he said.

Fairfield and Stratford, for example, charge $20. West Haven, which charges $10, is looking to increase its fee, Blake said.

“One of the things we have to note is that the city will never charge residents to park at our beaches,” Blake said. “This is only for non-residents.”

City leaders also want to be sure that if the state starts charging for parking at Silver Sands State Park, Milford’s public beaches are not overwhelmed because the cost to park at them is less. The state has projected charging $9 during the week for state residents and $13 on weekends, plus tax, when improvements are completed at Silver Sands State Park.

Blake said the parking fee at Walnut and Gulf beaches helps pay for the resources that go into maintaining the beaches, as well as the restrooms.

There was some debate about raising the fees. While most of the aldermen thought it was a good idea, Alderman Nick Veccharelli was concerned it might send more people parking in surrounding neighborhoods, as has been a problem along East Broadway for many years. He said he wanted the fee to stay at $5, but made a motion to raise it to $10 rather than $15. That motion failed, however.

Milford’s police department is looking this week at changing parking limitations in beach neighborhoods, and Blake said that might help solve the problem for neighbors. Blake said the department will look at creating 15-minute parking areas, some two-hour parking areas and resident-only parking areas.

On a Saturday in summer, 70% of the people parked at Walnut and Gulf beaches are residents, and 30% are non-residents, estimated Recreation Director Paul Piscitelli.

“Although recently, due to the the point that Walnut Beach has become a destination, we’re seeing a lot more non-residents accessing Walnut Beach,” Piscitelli said.

Summer revenue from beach parking fees was $28,000 last year, up from the previous year’s $13,000, he said.

Alderman Anthony Giannattasio asked if there will be increased parking enforcement in beach neighborhoods. Lieutenant Brian Rojee of the Milford Police Department suggested there will be more enforcement.

Alderman Ray Vitali suggested using non-police officers to ticket cars, like meter maids in bigger cities. But Rojee said he doesn’t think it is a good idea to have civilians in charge of enforcement.

Alderman Frank Smith said he’s stood at the parking kiosk in the summer at Walnut Beach and watched as the fee taker tried to monitor a busy area, sometimes as motorists were trying to haggle over the parking fee. Smith said the increased fee should possibly be used to pay for another seasonal temporary employee to help monitor the parking lot.

The aldermen also voted to change the beach season, the period during which fees are charged for parking. It had been May 15 through Sept. 30, and was changed to the Saturday before Memorial Day to and including Labor Day.

Non residents can also buy a seasonal parking sticker for $150.

Also, parking tickets that had been $15 and $25 were raised to $30 and $50 respectively so that beach goers wouldn’t opt to pay a parking ticket rather than the beach parking fee.