WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) – Across the county, beach towns charge for parking during the peak season – roughly from March to November. But Carolina Beach’s parking management company is recommending an end to the five free months and switching to a year-round program.
Town Council is set to hear a presentation from Reef Parking, their parking management company, following the summer beach season. Beach towns heavily rely on parking revenues to keep taxes low and help pay for things like lifeguards and beach nourishment programs, but during the so-called off-season, locals to the area but not beach-town residents get a reprieve from the $5 an hour parking rates.
It’s typically seen as a win-win, as locals get a chance to enjoy the beach and shops without paying while they also help keep local businesses afloat during the downtime of fall and winter. For resident Tim Chestnut, the payoff might not be worth it.
“It’s kind of a catch 22. If you do it year-round then a lot of the local businesses will lose revenue because people aren’t going to want to come down here and pay in the off-season. If there was a way to set it up to where it would be cheaper prices or have a yearly pass for out of town folks – but a lot of people aren’t going to want to do that because they only come down once or twice a year,” he said.
Town Councilman JoDan Garza also offered his thoughts on getting rid of the free parking season and said it isn’t a new idea.
“So typically every year with our parking, they bring to the council about the possibility of going year-round. Usually it’s always shot down by council because it’s one of the things that we feel that our locals, maybe not local to the island, to the county and to the state, it’s just kind of maybe not fair ‘cause how much they give back to the business. I’m, for one, always going to shoot it down,” Garza said.
“It’s gotta be that cut-off point. At some level you can’t always just constantly be charging whether it’s the visitors or the residents,” Garza concluded.
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