Lumina News file photo
New parking meters were installed on Old Causeway Drive in 2010. The Wrightsville Beach Board of Aldermen is now considering adding more meters and increasing paid parking hours.
As a result of discussions that arose during the Wrightsville Beach Board of Aldermen’s Jan. 27 meeting with Lanier Parking, a series of changes to the town’s parking policies will be addressed at the board’s next meeting 6 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 18.
The changes include the possible extension of metered parking hours from 6 p.m. to 7 or 8 p.m., increasing the daily parking pass rate, adding new metered parking spaces and limiting the number of commercial parking passes available.
Wrightsville Beach Mayor Bill Blair said the need for more parking revenue was a result of the ever-increasing costs of public beach facilities offered and the maintenance of those facilities.
“There are several ways to attack that expense,” Blair said by telephone on Feb. 11. “One of those ways is parking, which it always has been but in order to keep the rate the same — if that is what the board wants — the thought was to increase the hours.”
Blair said he would be more in favor of only extending one hour to 7 p.m. rather than 8 p.m. and that it would be up to the board to decide whether it would like a public hearing on the subject.
Wrightsville Beach town manager Tim Owens said many changes to the town’s parking policies would not require a public hearing, especially the extension of metered hours.
With a change to the length of metered parking hours, Mayor Blair said the daily parking pass rate would likely increase as well.
The board may also address an increase in parking revenues with the addition of new spaces around the beach strand. Blair said there are around 25-40 additional spaces that have been identified in various places.
“The spaces are there and if each one generates $1,200 to $1,400 and you come up with 40 that is $50,000 worth of additional revenue,” Blair said. “Those opportunities have been there all along but it was just something I thought of because I keep seeing these spaces with no meters on them.”
Owens said he has compiled a spreadsheet of each possible new space that he will present to the board, but advised there are a varying number of issues associated with adding each space.
“Some are no brainers and some have some concerns so we are probably going to be more conservative with the number we approach,” Owens said. “If we think this is something we want to do we will look at it on a case-by-case basis.”
The availability of commercial parking passes is another subject Blair and the board of aldermen hope to address at the next meeting because there was an increase in commercial pass sales from 32 to 113 between 2012 and 2013.
Owens said an employer only has to present a privilege license, operate a business within the town limits and pay the $290 to obtain a commercial parking pass, and that there are no limits to how many an employer can purchase. Those passes may be used at the town’s metered parking spaces.
“There definitely is some loss there,” Owens said. “You need to be fair and allow employee parking but, if someone is taking advantage of it, that is a concern too.”