Webster Beach Parking is a Thorny Issue — Again  
Thursday, August 3, 2006

Questions about the Webster-Dudley school union were beginning to surface, but the alignment, with Dudley sending secondary students to Webster’s Bartlett High School on a tuition basis, would persist for another decade. Dudley’s forest fire department, with mostly member-built equipment, was about to blossom into a volunteer fire department, but the town would continue to buy fire protection from Webster two more years.

The year was 1958, and a lot of things were still Webster-Dudley, especially in religious, social and civic circles. So a move in Webster to charge parking fees for out-of-town cars at Memorial Beach on Webster Lake had a natural qualifier.

The proposed legislation, crafted by Webster Parks Commissioners Charles J. Krupinski, Alexander A. Starzec and Louis A. Dabrowski, provided “that Webster and Dudley residents may be admitted free.” The parking charge for all others would be $1 a day.

For the denizens of the two towns, stickers would be issued annually without charge on set dates, but during the summer for no more than 25 cents. They would “be clearly marked ‘Webster-Dudley resident,’ ” the commissioners suggested. No one objected.

The matter was on the March 4, 1958, Webster town meeting warrant and, surprise, the proposal read: “legislation authorizing the charge of a parking fee for all out of town cars parking at Memorial Beach.” The draft had been rewritten by town counsel. It was approved by the town, then by the state Legislature on May 19, 1958.

Park commissioners were upset, lawyers said the Webster-Dudley addendum was illegal, and Dudley Selectman Joseph F. Begrin reminded his Webster counterparts, “The beach was ours before Sam Slater came along.” (Dudley and Oxford had been partitioned to form Webster) Teenagers, mostly students in the same high school, grumbled. The bicycle set and walkers didn’t care, but it wasn’t a happy situation.

Now, all of this comes to the fore because of questions raised by former Webster Selectman William E. Cunningham Jr.

Webster residents who use commercial rubbish haulers aren’t that interested in the current multi-use sticker, good at the Webster transfer station and for parking at the town beach. It costs $5 and is good for five years, but the special law promised “free” parking at the beach for town residents. The $5 fee may not be much, but it’s a charge to beachgoers not interested in using the transfer station. And nothing has been done to change the special act.

Auto windshield stickers providing access to Webster facilities seem to be getting quite sticky.

John C. Bayer, affiliated for many years with Bayer Motors Co. of Dudley, now retired and living in Brooklyn, Conn., was in Webster on a recent afternoon.

Mr. Bayer said he knew some people who went whitewater river rafting on a roaring Western waterway, probably the one that generates electricity for Las Vegas. Their itinerary included a stay at a primitive American Indian station on the river. Something happened and the raft went by the place much faster than expected, so the primitive place people pulled out their cell phones and summoned a rescue helicopter.

“It was the highlight of their trip,” said Mr. Bayer.

Norman J. Deptula, the retired Bartlett High School educator, and Ted D. Geotis, a custodian at the Webster school, have teamed up on a sentimental mission.

The school’s archives were bursting at the seams some time ago and, as a consequence, a limited number of old volumes had to be discarded. Mr. Geotis figured they might have sentimental worth to officers or others in the long-ago classes, so he mounted an effort to locate representatives.

Mr. Deptula, the educational and scholarship chairman for six veterans and/or veterans-affiliated organizations, was at the school in that capacity a few weeks ago.

Mr. Geotis spied him and asked that he w
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