NEPTUNE BEACH, Fla. – In a few weeks, you'll have to pay to park at the Beaches Town Center. City leaders hope it will reduce the number of people who park there to go to the beach and allow more spaces for shoppers.
Parking has been an issue at the Beaches Town Center for quite some time, according to shoppers.
"Parking is an issue for both employees and customers," said shopper Mike Mclaren. "It's probably one of the things (that) is most frustrating about coming here."
The city of Neptune Beach will implement paid parking at the Beaches Town Center by the second week of August, hoping to alleviate the limited parking issue, by reducing the number of people who are just there to visit the beach, not to shop or eat at the restaurants.
"Even when I get here in the mornings, there’s no parking spots to find and that’s at 10 a.m. So, that means everybody here that’s parked in front of our stores but is at the beach and we might not necessarily see them as a customer," said David Moses, manager of the North Beach Fish Camp.
Kiosks are being installed this week at the Beaches Town Center. The machines will work through license plate recognition. The first half-hour is free, then it's $1 for each additional half-hour.
Officials at the city of Neptune Beach say in the Beaches Town Center there will be about 170 spaces in Neptune Beach and about 65 spaces in Atlantic Beach.
Employees who work at the Beaches Town Center will be able to park at some nearby churches and banks that the city has made agreements with. Beach buggies will then transport employees back and forth.
"The new kiosk is going to bring a little bit more structure and some organization to the way people find parking spots and enjoy the block," Moses said.
The city of Neptune Beach says drivers will also be able to pay via a mobile app. The city has hired a parking manager who will run the pilot parking program.