Atlantic Beach trying to increase safety near beach access

Parking change would have cut spots near popular access spot

By Elizabeth Campbell - Reporter

ATLANTIC BEACH, Fla. - A change designed to increase safety near a popular Atlantic Beach access spot would limit the amount of parking available. City officials told News4Jax it won't happen anytime soon.

There are currently 40 perpendicular parking spots on 18th Street, which are always full on weekends and often during the week. A parking and pedestrian safety committee has recommended converting 18th Street to parallel parking to give more room to accommodate two-way traffic and leave room for pedestrians and bicycles. But it would also reduce the number of parking spots.

Angela Waters lives on Ocean Grove Drive, a few houses off 18th Street. She wishes the city would consider parallel parking like it has on 19th Street. She said a woman’s small dog on a leash was struck and killed by a car last summer and feels the current configuration makes the street too dangerous for walkers, bikers or skateboarders.

Sue Dimascio also lives in the area but has a different opinion on the parking.

"I feel safe here. I don’t think it’s a problem. I feel strongly there should be free parking. Our beaches are beautiful and people should have a place to park when they come here," Dimascio said. "When you’re walking down here, just be careful."

The city manager said the police chief feels the current parking situation is a safer option than parallel parking. Since he disagrees with the committee recommendation, it has been tabled for now.

The city has recently made several safety improvements:

No longer allow parking after 9 p.m. (up from 11 p.m.)
Relocate the public shower off 18th Street so people aren’t standing in the road 
Place an officer in the area during the peak of beach season

Atlantic Beach is also is getting closer to implementing a paid parking system which would include 18th Street. It is hoped that will help lessen congestion. 

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