FERNANDINA BEACH, Fla. – Two main public parking lots in Fernandina Beach might not be free places to enjoy the sun and sand next year.
The city of Fernandina Beach is considering making the Main Beach Park and Seaside Park lots pay to park.
The idea is to help alleviate the cost of cleaning up the beaches and staffing beach rangers.
Beachgoers were less than pleased at the prospect of forking over cash to park.
“I’ve been coming here for years, and I love this spot, but I probably won’t be coming back here if I have to pay for free parking, which means I’ll have to go to Peter’s Point or somewhere else,” beach visitor BB Todd said.
City Manager Dale Martin said he’s not surprised to hear some negative reaction.
“There’s been some obvious pushback. I think people are concerned about the impact on themselves and the history of the beaches here in Fernandina,” Martin said.
City officials said people who don’t want to pay can still use one of the available free lots. They said 60 percent of the beach parking will still be free in Fernandina.
The pay lots will cost $1 an hour, up to $5 for the day, or $25 for a weekly pass.
Beachgoers who said they'd be willing to pay thought the price sounded reasonable.
“When you think about it, you are accessible and close to the beach being able to park. I mean, really, for a day, $5 isn’t too much. It wouldn’t break the bank,” Jess Rutledge said.
City officials said they're treating all beachgoers the same, which means no discount on parking for Fernandina Beach residents.
The city will meet on the parking issue again on Oct. 16. If the change passes, people will have to pay to park in the lots from April 1 to Sept. 30 next year.