The town is wrestling with parking changes on Bay Isles Road that will be effective when voters cast ballots in March at Town Hall.
Town Manager Dave Bullock informed the Longboat Key Town Commission Oct. 21, that staff is seeking to restrict parking within 100 feet of the openings at Town Hall and across the street at the bank entrances on Bay Isles Road during the month of March.
Although the town previously adopted an ordinance that prohibits parking near the entrance and exit of Town Hall, staff noted during last year’s March election that some cars were parked overnight on Bay Isles Road to save spots for campaigning.
The oversaturation of parking led to confusion among voters, who started parking in the Bay Isles Road left-turn lane into Town Hall to cast a ballot. Voters were attempting to avoid the crowds near the parking lot.
“The idea here is we experienced a lot of cars parked permanently in areas that began to impede movement of pedestrians and other vehicles,” Bullock said.
The new proposal calls for no parking in March along Bay Isles Road on either side past the Longboat Library to avoid problems for the town’s next election, which has three commission seats up for grabs.
Some commissioners agreed with the concept, and others suggested there may not be any problem with allowing cars to park close to the entrances and exits.
Commissioner Jack Duncan suggested all parking in that area along Bay Isles Road, not just 100 feet from the entrances and exits, be curtailed.
Commissioner Phill Younger said he has parked along the road near the Town Hall entrance for campaigning purposes; so have other commissioners and commission candidates in the past.
“This is really about candidates hogging a prime area,” Younger said. “We’re all guilty of it.”
Mayor Jim Brown suggested it may not be a safety issue, but Town Clerk Trish Granger informed commissioners there were complaints last March during the election.
“The clerk’s office received numerous complaints about supporters standing on the edge of the entrance,” Granger said. “Motorists were worried about driving into Town Hall because too many people were crowding the area and they were afraid they might step in front of their cars.”
Granger said Bank of America also indicated election parking was impeding its traffic flow during work hours.
Commissioner Pat Zunz agreed with Granger’s assessment.
“I spent a lot of hours there,” Zunz said. “We took the spots and saw the turn into Bank of America was a hazard.”
Bullock promised to bring the parking issue back up for future review and discussion before the town’s municipal election in March.
Contact Kurt Schultheis at [email protected]