Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Neptune Beach Council Does Away with Paid Parking Idea

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Neptune Beach Council Does Away with Paid Parking Idea

Article excerpt

Byline: DREW DIXON

NEPTUNE BEACH - Despite late spring and early summer concerns about a crush on parking at Town Center, the City Council agreed Monday to drop any plans to increase parking control at the popular commercial hub.

"I have a sense that the problem is not as urgent as I thought initially," Councilman John Weldon said.

Weldon was among several council members who in June was considering adding parking meters or signs limiting parking to two hours because of a crush of beachgoers using the parking lots surrounding Town Center to go to the shoreline. Restaurant and shop owners complained to the city the use of spaces by beachgoers was depleting spaces for customers.

But at a workshop Monday, several business owners in the Town Center said they'd prefer not to change the current free parking system.

"Do no harm, that's what we really ask you as business people," said Rona Brinlee, owner of the Bookmark book store on Atlantic Boulevard. "Please don't have paid parking. I think that would really be hurtful to business.

"I think that it's important that we have to allow beach parking. People come here to go to the beach," Brinlee said.

City Manager Jim Jarboe pointed out it was businesses who brought concerns to the city over parking issues about two months ago. While Jarboe said there was a surge on parking during the weekends for several weeks, that seems to have subsided.

Jacksonville City Councilman Art Graham, who represents the Beaches district, also was present at the Neptune Beach workshop Monday and said the late June introduction of the Beaches Trolley system on the weekends seems to have done well.

The trolley runs from South Jacksonville Beach to the Town Center and Graham said ridership at the Town Center stop has taken off, noting many people wait at the stop for the last run of the trolley at 2 a.m.

Mayor Dick Brown said the trolley has likely helped alleviate the parking demand on Town Center, but he said it's not certain. …

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