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Town council receives report on parking study

November 7, 2019
By NATHAN MAYBERG ( , Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

With a desire to improve the parking situation in town, the Fort Myers Beach Council authorized the hiring of a consultant to conduct a study last year.

On Oct. 29, the council heard from Jim Corbett of Tampa-based Walker Consultants, on the results of his firm's study during a management and planning session.

Corbett told the council that his firm concentrated its study on the northern end, around the town's hotels.

"More visitors means more access to the businesses during certain times of the year," he said. During his report to the council, Corbett asked the council what its objective was. "Do we want more parking?

"Do you want to keep a certain level of flexibility during this seasonal period?"

Mayor Anita Cereceda said her ideal goal is for those visiting downtown to be able to park once and be able to move around.

"We all agree that we want to keep cars off the road," she said.

Council member Joanne Shamp said new businesses entering the town need to provide parking.

Council member Bruce Butcher said he wants to "maximize the availability of parking." He supports a parking garage.

"In a beach environment, you never have enough parking," Corbett said. "More visitors means more businesses."

Cereceda asked if the town was losing traffic due to the cost of its parking, which is $3 an hour at the town-owned lots and spaces.

Shamp said she was used to paying $10 an hour for parking in New York City.

"It costs $6 just to get over Sanibel Bridge," she said.

Corbett said the town may want to consider limits on parking.

"We get a lot of complaints about the two-hour time limit," Cereceda said.

Cereceda said there is no time limit in Naples. Parking downtown is free there.

"You have to enforce a time limit," Corbett said. "If parking is at a premium, you have to charge a fee. It's a supply-and-demand issue."

Council member Rexann Hosafros said she wants to keep parking at $3 an hour but wants to have a maximum of charge of $15 to $18.

The council also is considering changing its code to potentially require smaller buffers between businesses and parking spots.

Corbett noted that there are people who may want to visit a hotel or another business just for lunch. Some of the hotel lots, he noted, have tight spaces, which can make it difficult to park. There are also charges to park in those lots.

At Times Square, Norm Rossi said parking in the town is "very difficult" during peak season. Rossi, who splits his time between Bonita Springs and Wisconsin, said "they need to have some type of multi-level beach parking."

"They need more parking," said Fred Downing, who has a home in Fort Myers Beach and Michigan.



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