More than a month into the implementation of paid parking on St. Armands Circle, city officials continue to report positive trends.
When Gavin Meshad looks at some of the parking spaces on St. Armands Circle, he doesn’t think it’s immediately apparent that visitors have to pay to park.
Meshad, chairman of the St. Armands Business Improvement District, raised this concern with Sarasota Parking Manager Mark Lyons at a March 13 meeting. The BID invited Lyons to provide an update on the newly implemented paid parking program on St. Armands, which went live in February and has been a source of some concern and consternation for area stakeholders.
Meshad focused on spaces located farthest away from the pay stations placed around the Circle. If you get out of your car and don’t immediately see a sign or a place to pay, Meshad said, you might not realize that there’s a charge. He questioned whether there was a way to improve the signage
“It doesn’t feel like a metered spot,” Meshad said. “It feels like an open spot. Some of that’s learning — like, you’ll learn, right? But when we’ve got tourists coming in and out on a seasonal basis, they may not learn as quickly as locals.”
Lyons said he understood Meshad’s concern and indicated he was open to suggestions for making things clearer for users. Already, he said, the city was working on adding more signs indicating the different color-coded parking zones that determine the hourly rate users have to pay.
Over the course of the BID meeting, Lyons assured the board the city was focused on making sure the paid parking program is running smoothly on St. Armands. Although the BID had a series of questions on the topic, Lyons said the city is happy with the status of the new parking program during the first month of operation.
The city approved the St. Armands paid parking program in 2017 as part of a strategy to fund a parking garage on North Adams Drive, which also opened in February. Lyons said the meters brought in approximately $77,000 during the first month of operation despite not charging for garage parking until March 13, which he said was in line with the city’s initial projections.
Despite some concern from merchants about the availability of monthly employee parking permits, Lyons said the city has not reached a cap for the number of permits it can distribute to those working in the Circle.
BID board members asked Lyons to keep them informed about monthly paid parking revenues going forward. The board also expressed interest in discussing the possible use of excess parking revenue for investment within the parking district, though Lyons said the city would want to monitor the system over a longer period of time before beginning that conversation.
The city is still in the process of undertaking some construction related to the garage project, including the installation of gateway signs approaching St. Armands Circle along John Ringling Boulevard and Boulevard of the Presidents.