Neptune Beach Ready to Move Forward on Paid Parking Plan
But several questions remain to be resolved
Neptune Beach is ready to move forward with a plan to charge for parking in its central business district, but there are still some details that need to be worked out, according to the city staff.
At a special meeting of the Neptune Beach City Council Tuesday morning, City Manager Andy Hyatt said that there are 228 city-controlled parking spaces in Neptune Beach around the town center, while Atlantic Beach has 66 that would be included in the program.
The city would use a kiosk system to collect revenue for parking in in the affected areas. A portion of that money, the initial figure mentioned was up to 10 percent of the net proceeds, would be set aside for use in the Town Center area. The remainder would go to the general fund. At least one full-time parking manager would be hired to run the program, and as many as four part-time parking enforcement employees are also included in the initial budget.
Hyatt said that the goal was to manage the parking in Neptune Beach. “Solving is a word I’ve heard, and I don’t know if we’ll ever ‘solve’ the parking conflicts or issues that are down there. But we can manage it a little better,” Hyatt said.
But there are still many questions that need to be answered. Residents who live near Town Center on First and Second streets are concerned that people will begin parking in their neighborhoods to avoid paying for parking. There is also the question of where employees of the Town Center businesses will park. Currently, many employees park near their jobs, which can take up a parking space for several hours at a time.
The city is considering a resident parking pass that would allow Neptune Beach taxpayers to at least pay a reduced rate in some parking spots in Town Center. Councilman Rory Diamond suggested that some parking might be set aside in the residential areas east of Third street for the people who live there and their guests.
Councilor Rory Diamond pointed out that the city is facing a loss of revenue when the Better Jacksonville Plan expires, and could take another hit to its budget if voters pass an additional homestead exemption that will be on the November ballot. Mayor Elaine Brown said that the paid parking program could potentially make up some of that revenue shortfall, and it would mean the Neptune Beach taxpayers no longer would have to bear the entire cost of the parking infrastructure in the city. “And I think that’s one of the main things is we’re really looking out for the residents,” Brown said. “We’re looking out for the number of dollars that have to be paid to maintain the infrastructure and everything else that is making this town center operate and operate well.”
Atlantic Beach commissioner John Stinson, along with that city’s manager Joe Gerrity and assistant city manager Kevin Hogancamp also attended the meeting. Stinson said that Atlantic Beach has been waiting to see how Neptune Beach plans to proceed, and is committed to making the paid parking program seamless on both sides of Atlantic Boulevard.
Neptune Beach may vote on implementing the paid parking program in September. It would then have to hire a parking manager, purchase and install the kiosks, set rates and program the system before it could be implemented.