Fernandina Beach considers charging for parking

By Jennifer Ready - Reporter, Crystal Chen - Assignment editor/reporter

FERNANDINA BEACH, Fla. - Fernandina Beach is the latest Northeast Florida city to consider a parking fee at the beach.

A Beach Committee is looking into it and could recommend the change later this year.

Many beach goers say they have mixed feelings about it. Residents and visitors say one of the main reasons they enjoy coming to the beach in Fernandina is because of the free parking, but if they had to pay, it wouldn't necessarily deter them from enjoying a day in the sun.

For Mason Bradshaw and her friend, a day at Fernandina Beach is well spent ocean-side, enjoying a bagel and each other’s company. 

"I live straight down the street and it's always been nice to come here and have a free beach," Bradshaw said. It’s a perk she's always enjoyed. 

But that could change if the city of Fernandina Beach decides to make residents and visitors pay to park at its beaches. 

In a weekly comment published in the Fernandina Observer, city manager Dale Martin, says a beach committee is exploring the idea to generate revenue for beach and facility maintenance. 

Currently, property tax revenue in the general fund is used to pay the cost.

If paid parking is implemented, the city is considering implementing it at main parking lots first, including Seaside Park, Main Beach and North Beach.

Mike Mazzella is a resident who said he would pay for parking if it was implemented. However, he’s enjoyed Fernandina Beach since he was a kid and has never had to pay for parking.

“We love the beaches and the access and the facilities the city has. That’s great. I would hate to have to pay for parking and that’s one of the reasons we come to Fernandina Beach,” said Dan Dorr, a visitor at the beach.

Many say it’s a small price that’s worth paying for a day at the beach.

Several business owners have said they’re surprised the city hasn’t charged for parking. They don’t think the change will deter business. 

News4Jax did reach out to the city to learn more about this consideration but they were unable to speak with us.

It is unknown how much parking would be if a fee was implemented. In his weekly comment, the city manager did say that it will be the same price for residents and visitors.

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