I read with interest last week your headline article "Parking limits, fines considered for Reid Ave."
When I was a boy growing up in St. Joe, I well remember when the City Fathers (my grand-daddy included) experimented with parallel parking and parking meters on Reid Avenue. As I seem to recall, they were disasters.
Monitoring parking and charging fines seems a bit of a government overreach to me. Before you know it, they'll be going around measuring the height of detached property accessory buildings, and that will not be without cost to the taxpayers. Regulating a thing may seem the perfect solution to folks who embrace regulations, but shouldn't we consider a few other practical options?
For instance, how about pursuing this avenue (pardon the pun); the City might consider looking into making an offer on the old Sears & Roebuck property, the vacant lot on the west side of Reid Avenue, between the Chinese restaurant and Egret's. Then add some nice pavers, and connect the Billy Joe Rish parking lot to Reid Avenue. It is large enough to provide safe pedestrian traffic, as well as golf cart and bicycle parking. It is also an attractive space that is sadly underutilized.
In recent years much of the economic activity along Reid Avenue has shifted toward the south end, closer to Cecil G. Costin Boulevard. If more people would divert their parking and shopping strolls to that end of town, it might relieve some of the congestion toward the north end, near First Street. Amazingly, that's what we need, right?
Another consideration might be to remove the one-way status of those streets intersecting Reid along its eastern corners. Let all of the traffic across Reid flow from west to east, off of Highway 98, or Clifford C. Sims Boulevard. There is no reason why Port St. Joe cannot be a multi-block level shopping community. It works pretty well in Apalachicola; why not here?
Or, we could just pass a bunch of laws, begin monitoring parking, and fine our citizens and guests. Instead of an old-fashioned small town speed trap, we could become the parking trap capital of the Panhandle.
Imagine this, good Lord forbid, we have an extreme emergency that demands all of our
first responders to be, for instance, on scene in our local schools. What if most of our
uniformed law enforcement resources are committed to counting cars, noting the correct time, and exacting fines. Who will be free to respond to the emergency?
I hope the fellows on the City Commission think this one through. Legislating new regulations seems to me, something which should only be done as a last resort. Please encourage the Commissioners to look for other solutions, even if it means thinking outside the box.
While they're studying Reid Avenue, please Lord, speak to them about removing those
horribly engineered curbs where Reid meets First Street.
Very best regards,
Native Son of Da Joe.