Jacksonville Beach looks to add more public parking

By Ashley Mitchem - Reporter, anchor

JACKSONVILLE BEACH, Fla. - The issue of parking is not a new topic for Jacksonville Beach city leaders, who may have a plan in place that could add more public parking.

The city is looking at developing public parking on a city-owned lot on the west side of Second Street North between Third and Fourth avenues.

The proposal would cost more than $10 million over 30 years.

"There's some long-term potential we could put some parking garages at Jacksonville Beach and that's probably going to be the next step where we provide for an infrastructure for parking," Mayor Charlie Latham said.

Jacksonville Beach officially opened its beaches for the summer months this past weekend. Thousands of people were at the 68th annual Opening of the Beaches Parade Sunday afternoon, and with the large crowd, parking once again became a problem.

"We're the victim of our own success, if you will," Latham said.

Because the beach has seen so much growth over the last few years, the city is looking at ways to accommodate the influx of people. One aspect the city is looking at is public parking.

"This past weekend with (the University of North Florida's) graduation, a lot of parents came to the beach and parking can be an issue, especially if your kid doesn't live beachside and you can just walk across the street," a beach resident named Maureen said.

"I try not to come on the weekends," resident Jenny Smith said. "We did come last night at 6 o'clock and it was still crazy busy."

Not all beach residents, however, like the idea of a parking garage.

"Parking garages I don't believe would be a good solution because I think they are towering and ugly," Smith said.

That's the kind of feedback the city of Jacksonville Beach hopes to hear at a public meeting Monday night. Another topic many visitors are passionate about is public restrooms.

The plans indicate a new restroom could be added to city's Oceanfront Park at Sixth Avenue South.

"There's always the No. 1 complaint that there's not enough parking and the restrooms are just not enough, and sometimes they may not be the cleanest if you want to find a restroom that is close," beachgoer Niki Kemery said.

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