Putting Nassau County Florida news in the light.

Fernandina Beach Police Chief James Hurley is scheduled to lead a public meeting later this week to discuss paid parking in the downtown shopping and restaurant district.

A parking committee is looking at paid parking for downtown Fernandina Beach. These cars traveling west Wednesday on Centre  St. are likely looking for a place to put the car. A significant rise in visitors are coming the city every day.

As more people visit downtown Fernandina Beach, paid parking is being considered as a way to ease congestion. How much will a parking spot cost? That hasn’t been disclosed. But “premium parking” areas have been defined and people who pay will have opportunity to park close to shops and restaurants. Tourism officials, who have for years reported record-breaking visitor counts, say marketing efforts will target wealthier people this year. 

The meeting is set for Fri., July 14 in the training room (formerly the community room) at police headquarters at 1525 Lime St. The start time is 6:00 p.m.

Chief Hurley is chair of a parking committee that has been looking at the issue over the last several weeks. Top city hall staffers are involved in the effort and on June 15 they met with downtown merchants to ask if they would like to see paid parking in ‘prime’ or ‘convenient’ areas.

According to Chief Hurley, half of the merchants said yes.

“I was surprised so many would consider paid parking,” he said by phone Wednesday. “It was an interesting split.”

Prime parking areas, he said, would include Centre St. and surrounding feeder streets from Ash St. to Alachua St. and Front St. to 8th St.

Chief Hurley suggested paid parking on a trial basis.

When would paid parking start? How much would it cost?

The chief couldn’t say.

“Those are City Commission decisions,” he said.

Chief Hurley, who was asked by the city manager to chair the committee, said members have reviewed a previous parking study, conducted a walkabout for a look at conditions, and researched solutions by other communities, such as St. Augustine, which has parking lots away from the downtown core and trolleys to ferry people to shops and restaurants.

The committee is scheduled to present its findings to the commission at the meeting Aug. 1.

Chief Hurley said the committee considered perceptions about parking versus reality: “Is there a parking problem or a walking problem?”

And the decision?

“Both are correct,” he said. “People want to park in front of the shops they want to visit.”

If they can’t?

“That’s a problem for them,” he said.

Chief Hurley urged the public to attend the meeting Friday.

“I’m not planning to do a lot of talking,” he said. “My goal is listening.”

Parking Committee members include Streets and Parks Maintenance Director Rex Lester, Fleet and Facilities Director Jeremiah Glisson, Stormwater Director Andre Desilet, and Senior Planner Kelly Gibson.

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