NEPTUNE BEACH, Fla. – The Neptune Beach City Council approved a plan this week to implement paid parking at the Beaches Town Center.
The area where Atlantic Boulevard dead-ends near One Ocean is one of the most popular places at the beaches. There's great shops and restaurants, but not a great deal of parking.
News4Jax on Friday talked with people at the beaches about how they think paid parking kiosks will impact the experience.
"I've been a resident of the beach long enough to remember when parking was not an issue. And nowadays, it's simply something I accept," said John Bracey, a Jacksonville Beach native. "I can tell you, I've circled the corner several times to look for a spot. But it's about destination, and I'm willing to invest the time to find a spot to enjoy the amenities out here at the beach."
Other people who live in the area, or just love being there, echoed Bracey's sentiments, saying parking at the Beaches Town Center can be a hassle.
"Especially on the weekends, you know, Friday night, Saturday night -- they're tough to park. Saturdays during the day especially to come to the beach," Jen Powell said. "So usually we'll try to valet or come to one of these restaurants just to valet."
Norm Gauslow, who lives in Atlantic Beach, also said it's tough to park there.
"A friend of ours we met last week, it took her half an hour to find a parking spot," Gauslow said. "That drives away some business that otherwise we could have here."
Will paid parking make a difference?
Neptune Beach Mayor Elaine Brown was working with staff on a landscaping plan, but she’s hopeful the parking plan will make a difference.
Several people told News4Jax they support the idea, or at least accept that paying to park is worth it in order to enjoy one of their favorite spots.
"It's kind of a challenge. We always valet just because it's a lot easier, especially with the baby," Melissa Moneypenny said. "I think (paid parking) is going to be more annoying. But I'll still valet probably just because it's easier."
Elana Gauslow said she's glad the parking problem is being addressed.
"I think revenue is great. That's a nice benefit," she said.
Another key from the mayor was that there will be no parking meters. She said there will be parking kiosks, like the ones in St. Augustine. Brown said 200 spaces will be served with 10 kiosks.
The city plans to pay about $60,000 for them.