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Study doesn’t show major parking problems for Sebastian

SEBASTIAN–A parking study commissioned by the Sebastian City Council does not appear to support the idea that parking is limited in the city’s downtown and waterfront districts.

The company that performed the study, Outlier Planning, is expected to make a presentation to the council in the near future, discussing the findings.

A draft of the analysis, available online at http://www.outlierplanning.com/PDF/MemoTask2.2_final.pdf, shows that even during the annual Sebastian Clambake Festival, parking was available.

Some pockets of parking, however, were filled to capacity, but only due to the special event, according to the draft report.

City Manager Al Minner, addressing the city’s Working Waterfront Committee at a recent meeting, told the group that, essentially, the study shows the city doesn’t have a parking problem.

“In a way, that’s a good thing,” Minner said, adding that the company’s findings were not surprising.

Though the study does not suggest Sebastian has limited parking, Minner said the firm plans to offer ideas on how to improve upon the existing parking along US 1 and other parking nodes.

Such ideas could include re-striping on-street parking on US 1 and other side roads or using special pavement to delineate available parking.

On US 1 alone, there are 125 parking spots, Minner told the committee, which includes Beth Mitchell, executive director of the Sebastian River Area Chamber of Commerce.

Mitchell told Minner during the meeting that, while she doesn’t disagree in general that the city doesn’t have parking problems, there are several small properties that are “locked in” with parking issues.

She said that those properties would have a difficult time redeveloping due to the parking limitations.

The city recently passed an ordinance allowing businesses in the community redevelopment area to pay into a parking fund in lieu of providing for all of its own on-site parking. The move, according to city officials, is meant to help businesses that have limited space for parking.

Mitchell also pointed out that some businesses, such as Suzy’s Tiki, use adjacent property along the river to handle parking needs.

She said that she does not believe that use is “in anyone’s best interest” – the city’s or the business’s.

Minner said the study helped to identify pockets where parking is an issue, which includes Capt. Hiram’s and Earl’s Hideaway during peak hours and special events.

The study, too, helps to justify the redesign of the Cavcorp lot – the boat trailer parking between the Hess gas station on US 1 and the river, according to Minner.

That project had been placed on hold until the study could be performed and the need identified.

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