JACKSONVILLE BEACH, Fla. – Labor Day weekend is considered by many to be the unofficial end to summer, which could have negative impacts on businesses in Jacksonville Beach.
Within the last year, several new businesses have opened and ended up closing not long after, leaving many people wondering what it will take to keep the town thriving.
Jacksonville Beach City Councilman Keith Doherty owns a business in town and said thriving businesses are necessary for the success of the beach community.
“I have this philosophy that the more revenue businesses generate, the less burden there is on our residents and taxpayers,” Doherty said. “If we have successful thriving businesses, we can afford to pay our police, pay our firefighters.”
Doherty, who owns Lynch's Irish Pub, said the issue forcing most of the businesses to close is simple: parking.
One of those businesses was Harmonious Monks on 3rd Street, which looks like a ghost town after it recently shut down.
Doherty, who is seeking re-election in November against Tom Taylor, said that since he became a city councilman in 2012, parking has been discussed over and over again.
“The city -- we really need to focus on parking,” he said. “It's proven that paid parking structures work, so anywhere you build something like a parking garage, it would help in many different ways.”
He said that the general election on Nov. 8 is important for the city’s growth, and that people need to do their research when it comes to their local candidates.
“A lot of people underestimate the power and impact of local governments, so it's very important to look into what each local representative has as a manifesto, what their achievements are going to be,” Doherty said.
He said it’s also important for the council to remain balanced -- with people of all ages and political backgrounds -- adding that the average age of a Jacksonville Beach resident is 33 years old.
He also said he encourages the idea of festivals like next month’s Oktoberfest, saying it brings people to local businesses during a normally slow time of year.