More work needed before more parking to be added in Sebastian riverfront

SEBASTIAN – More reviewing, studying and planning needs to be done before the Sebastian City Council is ready to move forward with improving and adding parking in the city’s riverfront district.

One issue that remains unresolved is the 170 parking spots along Jackson Street, whose ownership is split between the city and a private developer.

“It looks like an industrial zone,” Council member Andrea Coy said.

The lot is currently being used to park tractor-trailers and heavy equipment, according to Coy, along with valet parking.

Some years ago, the city entered into a public-private partnership with the developer, paying for the developer to punch a road, now-Jackson Street, through the property and add parking, which was to be shared between the planned multi-use development and the public.

The property has yet to be constructed under the approved site plans.

“We paid for it,” Coy said. “We bought it. We paid him (the developer) to build it. It was quite a deal.”

The parking study the city commissioned counts the 170 parking spots toward the supply of parking the city has, which is what prompted Council member Coy to question it.

“Right now, they’re not available to anybody,” she said of the parking spots.

City Manager Al Minner said that staff would continue looking into the Jackson Street parking issue and would bring information back to council once available.

Through the parking study, which the council unanimously approved, there are three projects Minner asked the council to allow him to pursue. Those projects include developing the boat trailer parking near Riverview Park, paving certain streets and addressing rules for “back out” parking on Indian River Drive and other riverfront district streets.

He said that he would bring back design concepts for approval before moving forward on expending funds.

“It’s about time,” Sebastian resident Damien Gilliams told the council about getting the Presidential streets paved. “What are you waiting for? What’s the hold up?”

Gilliams has been calling on the council to pave the streets in the city’s redevelopment area, including the riverfront district, for some time, noting the deteriorating conditions of the asphalt.

Council had held off on paving the streets because of the study. Council members have discussed changing the way on-street parking is handled on those roads and also have plans to re-landscape.

Decisions on parking and landscaping could impact how the streets are repaved.

“This is certainly a step in the right direction,” Mayor Jim Hill said of moving forward with the study’s recommendations.

Though he and other council members expressed misgivings over “back-out” parking along certain streets, they agreed to wait for Minner’s presentation before making a decision on whether more of it should be allowed.

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