This may sound petty but I don't think New Bedford residents should have to pay to park at the beaches or at Fort Taber Park.

I took a ride to Fort Taber Park late on Sunday afternoon to beat the heat for just a bit and was met by signs and a young man telling me I had to pay $5 to park my car.  I knew about the fee but since it was after 4:30pm I figured they must have stopped collecting for the day.  They had not and in fact would be collecting the fee up until 6pm.  I turned around and drove away.

It's not the five bucks or the miniscule amount they charge for an annual parking pass. It's the fact that they charge a fee at all that drives me nuts.  I certainly can afford the $5 but don't want to pay it.  I pay enough in taxes to keep my share of the park and the beaches up. I don't want to pay anymore.

They even ticket cars along East and West Rodney French Boulevards in order to force beachgoers into using the parking lots.  Beach area residents talk about parking enforcers who stalk their neighborhoods looking for the slightest violations in order to suck some more hard earned cash from your wallet.

This needs to stop. Citizens deserve to use their parks and beaches without being nickeled and dimed to death.  The natural resources New Bedford is blessed with belong to us all and the government has no right to keep us from enjoying them if we don't want to or can't afford to pay.

Editor's Note: Barry Richard is the afternoon host on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from Noon-3pm. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.