SANTA ROSA BEACH – A designated 2 acre parking lot on Walton County Road 393 South near County Road 30A could become more than just parking, according to Walton County Tourism Development Council (TDC) Director of Beach Operations Brian Kellenberger.
The planned land, a short distance north of regular access to Ed Walline Regional Beach on 30A west of Blue Mountain Beach, will include a structure that will serve as a stop for a transit system designed to help to bring down the cars from 30A. The two-lane beach-side road is a popular route for visitors to county beaches that can also be blocked by workers traveling to businesses along the route.
Kellenberger expressed optimism on Thursday that as it develops, public transport along the 30A will be used by visitors and workers.
“The biggest catalyst for change is pain, and it’s painful to drive your car at 30 amps right now,” he said.
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The transit structure, which will be designed in the “coastal cabin” architectural style that defines Seaside and other southern County communities, will include air-conditioned space and washrooms for people waiting for the trolley-style vehicles on offer as well. transit option for the area, Kellenberger said during Thursday’s uncrowded workshop, asking for public opinion on the parking lot.
Beyond the tram station, the lot is expected to include 87 regular parking spaces, two disabled parking spaces, 11 golf cart parking spaces and 168 bicycle spaces in racks around the lot. .
The purchase of the land for the lot and its construction is funded by the proceeds of the 5% “tourist tax” charged to people staying in local accommodation when they visit the county.
Bids for the construction of the parking lot and its streetcar station will be solicited after the Walton County Board of Commissioners approves the concept plan unveiled at Thursday’s workshop. This decision could be made at the committee meeting on September 28.
Kellenberger said he did not foresee any difficulty in securing bids for the project. “We had a decent turnout in our tenders for the construction,” he said, adding that the lot and the staging structure are “a fairly easy project”.
Not envisioned when the lot was originally designed – but needed now in light of the recent passage by the county commission of an ordinance establishing a pilot program for the rental of private electric scooters – will be places for these devices, Kellenberger said Thursday.
At present, parking and the planned tram service will be free, although there is a possibility that this may change in the future. But there’s a good reason to at least keep the transit service available for free, Kellenberger noted Thursday.
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“You want people to ride it,” he said. “You want people to get out of their cars.”
There will be no overnight parking permitted on the lot, but Kellenberger admitted that given the presence of short-term vacation rental properties nearby, some visitors may decide to park there 24 hours a day. .
“Do I expect some people to try to take advantage of it (parking available)? Kellenberger asked. “I do, but we’ll keep an eye on it. ”
The lot, which will be lit, will have no specific opening hours other than warning signs against overnight parking. Kellenberger estimated that, given the proximity to a nearby shopping district, vehicles could likely be in the parking lot until midnight on some nights.
Violators of the overnight parking ban will first receive a courtesy tag on their vehicle, but after that, tickets will be issued, said Kellenberger, who noted that the county’s code compliance office had added a few new parking control officers to its ranks.
In comments to allay the concerns of nearby residents and business owners, Kellenberger said TDC staff will “touch the grounds daily” to ensure it remains free of litter. Its lawn and landscaping will receive weekly attention. The lighting installed on the site will be shielded to prevent undue infiltration on neighboring properties.
The installation of a traffic light at CR 393 and 30A is not necessarily connected but already planned for the area, Kellenberger also said.
In comments towards the end of the workshop, he suggested that the focus on parking and transit options for popular county beaches could be a signal that the local government has taken a step forward in its management. growth and tourism.
“I like to think that we are in the apple polishing phase,” he said. “We’re not completely built, but we’re pretty damn close, and we’re working hard to polish things up to make it the vacation destination it needs to be for the people who live here and the people who come to visit here.”