The City Commission approved a paid parking program for the Palm Avenue garage on Sept. 3, but the city has held off on implementing the program to avoid interfering with downtown activity. Now, as the start date for paid parking approaches, at least one business owner wants the city to keep holding off.
Steve Seidensticker is the owner of Louies Modern, the restaurant located in the ground floor of the Palm Avenue garage. At Monday’s City Commission meeting, he will ask commissioners to delay the implementation of paid parking at the garage until after season concludes.
“I believe it would be beneficial to the downtown merchants in this very important season,” Seidensticker wrote in an email to Deputy City Manager Marlon Brown.
Paid parking at the garage has already been delayed due to concerns about affecting downtown businesses; Parking Manager Mark Lyons originally said the system could be in place within 45 days of its approval.
The city, in an attempt to avoid interfering with the holiday shopping season and issues arising from downtown construction, decided to hold off on beginning the program, according to documents included with the agenda for Monday’s meeting. Jan. 6 is currently the intended start date for paid parking at the garage.
The agenda documents highlight some potential effects of honoring Seidensticker’s request. Paid parking was, in part, approved to help cover the city parking fund’s $500,000 deficit. The revenue generated by paid parking is estimated at about $250,000, though that number would decline if the start date were delayed.
The effects of off-season construction efforts and the cost of maintaining the garage are listed as other potential downsides of delaying implementation.
If paid parking is delayed until next October, the documents state, it would give city staff the opportunity to make its implementation part of a more comprehensive, city-wide parking program.
Also on the agenda for Monday’s meeting:
• Commissioners will discuss funding Commissioner Susan Chapman’s future legal fees stemming from a Sunshine Law suit. Chapman, who was named as a defendant in the case along with the city and Commissioner Suzanne Atwell, will be the lone defendant after the other parties elected to settle with the plaintiff. According to City Attorney Robert Fournier, the city has no obligation to pay for Chapman’s defense if it is found she violated the Sunshine Law, though commissioners can do so anyway.
• The commission will hear a presentation from the consulting firm Marlowe and Company about the status of federal funding allocation for various city projects, including Lido Beach shoreline management.
• Randall Moore, the director of the Sarasota Bay Water Festival, will ask commissioners to consider contributing $13,000 to relaunch the Sarasota Sports and Fitness Festival, which was held in June 2012.
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