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Opinion
Longboat Key Wednesday, Jun. 10, 2020 2 months ago

Village parking: It’s not free for anyone

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There are no easy choices.
by: Matt Walsh Editor & CEO

When the Longboat Key Town Commission addresses street parking in the Village next week, it will be a sticky conundrum.

There is no easy choice that will satisfy the primary constituents — the Village residents, owners of the MarVista and Shore restaurants and their customers.

The Village residents want fewer cars and traffic on Broadway and the streets surrounding the restaurants. They will argue, rightfully, the recent expansions of the two restaurants have generated annoying traffic and are depriving them of what was once a more peaceful village.

The restaurant owners and their patrons will argue they have as much right to be on the public streets as do the Village residents. Those two restaurants — Shore previously was Moore’s Stone Crab Restaurant — have been a part of the fabric of the Village since the 1950s.

Some Village residents are lobbying for the town to issue on-street parking permits for Village residents — permits that would assure spaces for the residents and limit availability for restaurant patrons.

This, of course, would inconvenience the restaurants’ patrons and likely discourage customers.

What to do?

For one, parking is not free. Curb parking on Broadway, though “free” now, is not really free. There is a cost to it. One of the costs is the cruising that annoys the Village residents.

What’s more, space is scarce. There is not enough space in the two restaurants’ lots to accommodate their patrons at peak time — not to mention the space required for employees.

The Chiles Group hopes to alleviate some of the issue with its construction of an office and parking on Gulf of Mexico Drive, next to Whitney Plaza.

But even that’s probably not likely to solve the problem completely.

If there is to be peace among the Villagers and the restaurants, and if you look at the landscape from a bird’s eye, it appears there are opportunities for ample parking accommodations at Whitney Beach Plaza and the dormant bank building on Gulf of Mexico. You can envision shuttles carting patrons to and from the restaurants.

But at the same time, if parking permits are chosen for Village residents, they, too, should come at a price.

Who, for instance, would cover the cost of a new government employee issuing parking tickets to the violators?

There are no easy choices.

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