Parking study: Sebastian on track dealing with parking concerns

SEBASTIAN – Sebastian city leaders appear to be on track with handling parking issues in the city’s downtown and waterfront districts, according to a parking study presented to the City Council.

The study recommends the city better define on-street parking along US 1 and provide way-finding signs throughout the district. The Sebastian City Council is already moving forward on both points.

The council commissioned the study last year, prior to firming up plans for repaving what the city refers to as the “Presidential” streets in the district – Jefferson, Jackson, Martin, Coolidge, and others – as well as reconfiguring the boat trailer parking located to the east of the Hess gas station on Indian River Drive.

Outlier Planning, the firm hired to perform the study, found that the city has a few problem areas for parking, particularly around Capt. Hiram’s and Riverview Park during special events.

Overall, however, the study shows that the available public parking in the district is under utilized, but could be improved upon.

“We don’t really have a parking issue this council can’t resolve,” Mayor Jim Hill said after the presentation, adding that he is excited about the plans the city already has underway to address some of the issues.

The study was performed before the Mulligan’s restaurant opened. Residents have since started complaining about the lack of access to waterfront parking on Indian River Drive and lack of parking at the Yacht Club due to the restaurant’s patrons taking those spots.

The city does not yet have a plan to address those concerns.

Part of the recommendations from Outlier includes possibly removing some of the entrances onto US 1 – known as curb cuts. Such curb cut closures might have to go before the Florida Department of Transportation for approval.

“It makes a lot of sense,” Vice Mayor Don Wright said of closing some of the entry points. Doing so, he added, could mean even more on-street parking along US 1.

The city has already allocated $250,000 to better delineate parking  on US 1 by having the parking lanes repaved with stamped asphalt. A cross-walk at County Road 512, also, has been approved.

The parking study recommends more cross-walks and pedestrian connections be placed at US 1, Main Street, Cleveland, Martin, and Jefferson.

Other suggestions put forth by the study include marking off diagonal parking along the Presidential streets to allow for backing out onto the public roads.

The study did not take into account the boat trailer overflow parking located south of Riverview Park, which is typically only used as parking during busy boating days and special events.

City Manager Al Minner explained that it was left out of the study partly because it was an oversight. He explained that councils past have not really known what to do with that site, preferring to leaving it green, open space.

He suggested that perhaps the council could consider taking a “sliver” of the space and dressing it up as public parking to let people know they could park there.

“We don’t want to pave paradise,” Minner said.

The Sebastian City Council took no action on the study other than to voice support of the findings and proceed with the projects already approved.

The council is expected to discuss improving the boat trailer parking area and repaving the Presidential streets at a later date as those items had been postponed until the study was completed.

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