Saturday, June 26, 2004
Officials target beach parking
By SCOTT WYLAND | News-Journal Staff Writer
FLAGLER BEACH — A 2-mile stretch of beachside parking could be eliminated if two city commissioners have their way.
One of the many homes in Silversands with the house protected by sand dunes which helps to make a barrier for large waves generated by Atlantic storms, Wednesday, September 10, 2003. (Photo: News-Journal/Roger Simms)
Commissioners Bob Mish and Rosemary Bates want to remove parking on the east side of State Road A1A north of where it intersects with State Road 100 to help prevent cars from encroaching on the sand dunes, which are about to undergo a $65,000 restoration.
Some business owners and nearby residents don’t like the plan. The proprietors say reduced parking will hurt their sales, while residents worry drivers will head to the neighborhoods for parking.
Mish said he would like to remove parking all the way to the city’s northern border, though his immediate goal is to clear out parking along the dunes that will be fortified.
“If we’re going to do dune restoration then we definitely need to get people off the dunes,” Mish said.
People who drive recreational vehicles often cruise onto the dunes to park, even though they’re supposed to stay close to the roadside, Mish said, noting that much of the dunes’ area is badly eroded.
Commissioner John Feind said he would like to remove parked cars along S.R. A1A, both to protect the environment and improve aesthetics, but he wants a consultant to help craft a plan for creating alternatives.
“The problem is, where do we put the cars?” Feind said. “I don’t want to put them in the neighborhood.”
Slashing the parking spots might also cut into federal funds for beach nourishment, City Manager Nancy Ciummo said, noting the funding is based in part on beach-access parking.
The city is also looking at establishing metered parking downtown in the future, Ciummo said. A citizens’ research committee will present a preliminary report to city officials June 28 about how to begin paid parking.
Trimming the parking might diminish revenue, she said.
The Pier Restaurant on S.R. A1A, just south of S.R. 100, generates much of its sales from visitors who park along the shore, said Gary Kimberly, Pier general manager.
If that parking vanished, his business would be affected, Kimberly said.
Kimberly also questions where motorists would park. He described how on weekends vehicles line up all the way to Beverly Beach.
Mish said he doesn’t intend to cut parking without first crafting alternatives.
The city could set aside more parking lots downtown and encourage people to park in an underused lot on Fourth and Central avenues, he said.
Some downtown streets could be converted to one-way thoroughfares with diagonal parking along the side, Mish said. Motorists also park on the west side of S.R. A1A, an area used mainly during large events.
Ken Emberton, who lives west of S.R. A1A, said removing beachside parking would thin out traffic on S.R. A1A because drivers would no longer wait for people to back out of parking stalls.
But anglers would be deprived of convenient parking near the pier, and the restaurant would lose sales, Emberton said.
“So in the long run, it’s better that we keep the parking.”