By Don Ford

STINSON BEACH (KPIX) — When the gates to the Stinson Beach Park were locked because of the partial government shutdown, the beachside Siren Canteen started losing business. The locked gates were shutting off customers to her café, leaving visitors with nowhere to park.

The owner, Mary Margaret Stewart took matters into her own hands. She and the Feds struck a deal.

“They offered the opportunity that I pay a donation in order to be open,” Stewart said.

Stewart is donating an undisclosed amount of money that keeps the gate open, keeps the restrooms clean and pays for one ranger during business hours.

When asked if she can afford to keep doing that she was emphatic.

“No! … Knowing I will make it up in the summer season, well, we’re operating at a loss,” she admits.

Staying open also keeps her staff employed.

Word of her donation is spreading across this small beach town where everyone knows everyone.

John Washington has lived in Stinson for 43 years. He says the entire town is grateful.

“With she paying to have the park open, it gives people a place to park, it keeps the town cleaner and it’s a benefit for everybody.”

Bill Pint, who repairs hot tubs, agreed.

“It’s very humbling to find out someone would do something like that,” he said.

But there’s a problem. Stewart says she’s not sure how long she can keep the beach open on her own.

“I just hope this ends soon because it’s not fair to small businesses or to government workers. It’s just not right.”

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