Yeah, it’s summer.
You can tell by the way the cars spill over from the parking lot to the grass at Woodlawn Beach State Park, and how the mile-long sandy beach is buzzing with activity: tots playing in the sand, children running into the water, workers hustling to bring drinks to customers at the Beach Bar at Woodlawn Beach.
This year, attendance at the beach has surpassed the 1,000- car-per-day mark four times so far this summer.
That has only happened once in the previous three years that the Town of Hamburg has operated the beach.
“I think the word is finally getting out there,” Town Supervisor Steven Walters said. “It’s good family fun at a very affordable price.”
It wasn’t always that way.
The town took over operations at the beach in 2011, after the state had shut the park and others because of a budget crisis.
It cost the state about $360,000 a year to operate, while it brought in about $50,000. Last year the town lost about $20,000 at the beach, Walters said.
“I think in anyone’s book that has to be considered a huge improvement,” he said.
There have been some bumps along the way.
The town operation became a political tussle, with the Republican majority on the Town Board, led by Walters, working hard to take over the beach, while Democrats were skeptical about the town’s ability to make money there.
The town ended its contract with Tucker Curtin for Woody’s Beach Bar and Taqueria and awarded a contract to a new vendor. An unhappy Curtin sued, but was unsuccessful.
But despite some rainy weather, which can affect the water quality and prevent swimming some days, the town has taken in more than $130,000 in revenue including gate fees, gift shop and the Pirate’s Cove bounce house area, Walters said.
He said those town-controlled revenue generators were budgeted to bring in $170,000 for the entire summer.
Those totals don’t reflect the other $190,000 in projected revenues from day camp, the contract with the beach bar or rental of the pavilion.
Walters said that weekends at the pavilion, where small banquets can be held, are booked throughout the summer, and there have been more weddings on the beach this year.