By WECT Staff | January 25, 2021 at 10:58 AM EST – Updated January 29 at 8:14 AM
SURF CITY, N.C. (WECT) – Surf City has been known for its free parking for those hoping to enjoy the beach without having to pay the prices of some of the neighboring beaches to the south, but now it appears the town is at least considering a paid parking program.
On Friday, the Surf City Town Council will hold a special meeting at 9 a.m. to discuss paid parking, according to a public notice.
Currently, the town offers free parking at 36 different public beach accesses as well as at public parks, but the need for a paid parking system could help the town fund projects like beach nourishment.
“Implementing a parking management system will not only assist the Town in maintaining an organized and safe environment for its residents and visitors but will also assist in offsetting costs for major capital projects such as the dedicated US Army Corps of Engineers Coastal Storm Damage Reduction (beach nourishment) project,” according to Town Manager Kyle Breuer.
Another reason for the plan would be to help alleviate some of the burden that police currently have trying to enforce parking instead of focusing on other issues.
“According to Police Department statistics, the Town has seen a 170% increase in parking citations over the past three (3) years. A paid parking system with third-party enforcement will allow law enforcement to focus their efforts on the more critical needs throughout the town. The proposed parking management solution would be operated through a third-party mobile application that can be tailored to the needs of the Town as well as being user-friendly and engaging. If approved, the project would be implemented prior to the upcoming beach season,” according to Breuer.
The program is still in the works and specifics, including what parking lots would be included as well as possible opportunities for free parking have yet to be flushed out.
“Dedicated parking lots and specified right of way parking areas would encompass the zones designated for beach parking throughout the Town. With the proposal, the town can continue to look for opportunities to include options for Free, Hourly, Full Day, and Seasonal Paid Parking in the zones identified on the Surf City Beach Access & Parking Map from March through October. Additional options such as free parking for town residents may be incorporated into the application which can be validated through utility account information,” Breuer said.
In New Hanover County, paid parking is part of life for those heading to Wrightsville Beach and Carolina Beach, who both charge $5 an hour now. In Kure Beach town leaders are discussing the implementation of a paid parking program this year.
The meeting will take place at the Surf City Welcome Center at 102 N. Shore Drive, you can also watch the meeting online. There are not other details about the paid parking program in Surf City or how much it could cost or what spots would be paid at this time.
“Public comments will be accepted and can be submitted by telephone or email by calling and leaving a voicemail at (910) 338- 5510 or by emailing the Town Clerk at email@example.com. All comments will be heard during the public comment portion of the Town Council meeting on February 2, 2021 and prior to the vote,” according to the town.
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