Kure Beach Mayor Issues Letter Regarding New Parking Program

The Town of Kure Beach has contracted with a private company to begin a paid parking program. The Town of Kure Beach has contracted with a private company to begin a paid parking program.

Kure Beach Mayor Issues Letter Regarding New Parking Program Featured

By / Local News / Wednesday, 24 March 2021 03:16

By WILLARD KILLOUGH III
Managing Editor

KURE BEACH - The Kure Beach Town Council recently voted to hire a parking enforcement company and begin charging for public parking later this season. Last week Mayor Craig Bloszinsky explained in a letter to residents the new program would operate daily from 8AM to 5PM.
Residents will have the option to register their license plate for a fee of $20 each for a total of two plates, that includes golf carts. A third plate registration will cost residents $100 per year. Registering plates will allow residents to park in any public parking space anywhere, anytime.
Bloszinsky explained, "We have limited spaces and many more residents so we need to manage the space accordingly. This doesn’t guarantee a place to park, only that if you find one you would only need to abide by the timing in spots identified for time limited parking. On your own property you still have control of the right of way, no one should park there without your approval, a phone call to the Police Department will remedy that situation."
The Town has signed a contract with a parking enforcement company and ordered signs and equipment to begin charging for public parking in April.
Kure Beach has for many years been the only beach town in New Hanover County with free public parking. That tradition is now coming to an end.
Mayor Craig Bloszinsky explained during the Council's March 15th, meeting that a contract has been signed with a private parking enforcement company and, "The signs are ordered... the equipment is on it's way."
Bloszinsky explained, " Shortly you will see crews installing just two kiosks near downtown, you will see parking signs in discreet colors and designs being put up in areas of the Town. You will not see meters. We have worked with Premium Parking to use a friendly and low cost system to pay in four simple ways."
He explained, "Pay by Texting, pay by camera, pay by phone call, pay by kiosk in downtown. Each of these methods take seconds and at least one does not require a smart phone. Explanations of these pay methods will soon be on the Town website for our guests and visitors. The control point of the system for pay and enforcement is your license plate number."
Bloszinsky explained there will be special parking spaces on the south side of K. Avenue from Fort Fisher Blvd to Atlantic Avenue. Five of those spaces will be designated 30 minutes or less for free for people ordering takeout at local businesses.
Ten other spaces in that area will be designated as 2-hour parking spaces for people having lunch at area restaurants or shopping. The rate for those spaces will be $3.00 per hour unless a vehicle owner's plate is registered with the Town.  In both cases, the time limit is 2-hours.
Bloszinsky explained, "On Sunday Mornings from 8:00 AM to 1:00 PM on Sixth Street and Third Street the marked parking will be free for worship hours. At 1:00 PM enforcement will begin in those areas."
He explained employees  of local businesses that do not live in Town will be able to purchase passes. He explained,"We need to be concerned about our workers and our guests. The workers that provide services in the stores and restaurants in our town need parking too. We will have a $100 whole season pass for workers as long as they are employed by local merchants."
Guests staying at hotels and vacation rentals will have the option of purchasing a full season pass for $200. He explained, "The occasional guest can pay $5 per hour or $20 for the day, weekly guest rentals can purchase a week pass for $100 to avoid the daily pay for the week."
Bloszinsky explained, "You may ask why is this necessary? This is a large change to our community. As the surrounding area grows by 40,000 in the next decade we can expect that all will have a desire to share the beach. Today during season we grow 3 to 4 times our size in guests and residents. Like your home with guests the costs rise. We need more police and first responder support, trash is multiplied by more than 3 as you see the trash stacked on collection days, water and sewerage increases, lifeguards are added, the roads take traffic wear, beach access points need new signs and service, all costs are higher. The Towns experience over the last year with increased visitors and the anticipated continuous growth moves us to join the large number of beaches in North Carolina that have paid parking. We are asking that our guests share in that cost that you have shouldered alone for many years."
He explained, "If we generate the revenue expected and enjoyed by the other beach towns we will use that revenue where it is most needed, from road repair to storm water drainage, to beach support or any other place that it can best serve our residents and owners. We will put out more information in the next few weeks regarding how and when to sign on, what the initial grace period will be for warnings and the actual start date for the program. We expect to begin in early April and end parking September 30th in time for the October fishing season."
During the Council's March 15th meeting, Bloszinsky said the Town is still looking at beginning the enforcement program on April 1st but he asked the contractor if that date should be extended and the contractor responded they would consider it but were still looking at April 1st.
Councilman David Heglar said, "He needs to give us a link to the website and the communication plan and staff has to understand how to validate all these resident requests that are coming in. He needs to do that this week if we think staff is going to be able to validate all of the residents license plate information. That's going to be an issue."
Town Clerk Mandy Sanders said they will need time to validate residents license plate information for parking passes and it will be a short time-frame between March 15th and April 1st to complete that task.
Additionally, short term rental companies and residents will need to be notified in advance.
She explained, "We need to give them time to sign up." Heglar said, "The communication plan needs to begin now" including short-term rental companies that need to inform their clients so they are not caught off guard on the new parking regulations.
Bloszinsky said the Town should communicate with the contractor and rely on their 30 years of operation for input on how to operate the program.
The Council discussed moving the date of implementing the program on the 15th and will continue discussing the details with the parking contractor.
During the Council's February 1st, meeting Councilman John Ellen said, "Over six months, April through September (180 days) you have 660 slots. Twelve hours a day from 8am to 8pm, that's over a million four hundred slot hours. If you average a dollar an hour... you would clear $1,230,000 dollars. So I think it is a good idea. I haven't quite decided on my position on the rate. But the way I added up the numbers from the presentation the other night it  takes about $188,000 dollars for the contract. So if you have $1.4 million coming in and take $188,000 out, you clear a million 200,000. I think we ought to try it."
Councilman Joseph Whitley said on Tuesday February 2nd, "I think it will help us control parking which has gotten steadily worse over the years and all the populations from new developments coming over the bridge. Paid parking is about control. I don't see it being a cash cow or a windfall for the town. It will help some, but more it's just about controlling traffic and parking and people parking poorly which we've seen a rise of especially with COVID-19. and other Towns like Topsail Beach and others going with paid parking we saw a rise" in attendance because Kure Beach has always had free parking.
He explained, "We have to maintain rest rooms and other amenities, services, trash and recycling to deal with influx of people visiting the beach."

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