Following pushback from area merchants, the city’s lease on the parking lot at Orange Avenue and Laurel Street was renewed last October after lapsing that summer.
Now, with that lease still in place, Laurel Park residents hope to see the city take steps to avoid repeating history.
At Tuesday’s Laurel Park Neighborhood Association meeting, residents voted to send a letter encouraging the city to consider purchasing the parking lot, securing it as a long-term parking option for the Burns Square area.
Resident Jolie McInnis, an advocate of the purchase, explained that the potential purchase of the lot could have negative ramifications on the neighborhood. If people patronizing Burns Square businesses — such as Burns Court Cinema — did not have access to a municipal lot, cars could be pushed into the residential streets of nearby Laurel Park.
“There’s really no more space in the Burns Square area for a parking lot,” McInnis said. “There’s nowhere else large enough to put some sort of parking.”
In addition, McInnis and other residents were concerned about the prospect of any potential development were someone to purchase the lot, which is owned by Saunders Family Limited Partnership. The area is zoned to allow for the development of a 10-story building on the site.
Although some questions arose about whether area merchants should be responsible for funding the purchase and whether the extra parking was necessary, the association ultimately agreed to send a message to the city recommending the purchase of the parking lot.
Vice Mayor Susan Chapman, who was present for the meeting, said the site — and the city’s finances — complicated the process of potentially purchasing the parking lot land.
“What we can lease it for is different than what we can buy it for,” Chapman said. “What we can lease it for is a lot less than what we can buy it for.”
For more information on the Laurel Park Neighborhood Association meeting, pick up a copy of Thursday’s Sarasota Observer.
Contact David Conway at [email protected].
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