Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Study: Mickler's Can Take More Parking; Beach Lot Often Crowded

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Study: Mickler's Can Take More Parking; Beach Lot Often Crowded

Article excerpt

Byline: Drew Dixon, Shorelines staff writer

Dozens more parking spaces could be added for beachgoers at crowded Mickler's Landing in Ponte Vedra Beach, a new St. Johns County Public Works Department study shows.

The area outside the entrance to the Mickler's parking area could be used to add up to 70 paved spaces to the 248 inside the fenced-in area, said Public Works Director Joe Stephenson. Mickler's Landing is the only public beach access with parking from that point 7 miles north to the Duval County line.

Stephenson said the new spaces would be parallel parking spots on each side of Mickler Road between Florida A1A and Ponte Vedra Boulevard. The spaces would be paved and striped and some might be reserved at times for horse trailers for equestrians who are permitted to ride horses at the beach.

"Our traffic section reviewed the area and determined it was safe to put parallel parking there," Stephenson said.

The study comes after years of debate over insufficient parking in the Mickler's Landing area, including along Ponte Vedra Boulevard, and complaints last summer from motorists who were ticketed by sheriff's deputies for parking on grassy areas outside the gates at Mickler's. Also, the Surfrider Foundation's First Coast chapter has sued the county, charging that there's not enough public parking or beach access in the Ponte Vedra Beach area.

Sheriff Neil Perry said then the only resolution would be for the county to provide more beach parking.

County Commissioner Bruce Maguire, who represents the Ponte Vedra Beach area, asked Stephenson's department to conduct the study. Maguire likes the findings.

"I'm happy with the numbers," Maguire said. "I'm an advocate for providing more parking and beach access for the people. I am an advocate for expanding this site as a result of this. I may change my mind if something comes up in regards to safety."

Stephenson acknowledged the study conducted in the past month is simply an analysis to see if parking can be added. "There is no final plan. We've only done a preliminary analysis. We still have to go back and do some design work."

Maguire wants to take up the proposal for more parking at Mickler's during budget hearings and workshops with fellow commissioners this summer before the 2004-05 county budget is implemented Oct. …

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