Port St. Joe commissioners are prepared to a leap into the deep end of downtown parking: at least after an April 14 public workshop.
During its recent meeting, the board of the Port St. Joe Redevelopment Agency, comprised of city commissioners and two at-large members, decided to propose to the city several changes for a new parking ordinance in the downtown area.
The most significant proposal would limit parking along Reid Ave. to two hours daily, per space.
In addition, the new ordinance would impose a 20-minute limit on delivery trucks blocking alleys as well as the Billy Joe Rish Parking Lot and the parking area at City Commons.
“We need to be very transparent about this,” said Mayor Rex Buzzett who urged his fellow commissioners to conduct a workshop before making any decisions.
At the recommendation of Commissioner David Ashbrook, commissioners set a 6 p.m. ET workshop for April 14 to receive public input, particularly from downtown merchants, about the ordinance.
The date, commissioners noted, would provide plenty of advance notice of the workshop.
But, at the same time, commissioners are also proposing to take on a growing nuisance in the business sector.
Parking along Reid Ave. has long been an issue for the city and the PSJRA has discussed a number of potential options.
Several years ago, a face-to-face campaign with merchants seemed to have little lasting traction, particularly with one restaurant whose employees fill an out-sized number of spaces for long periods.
Petitions, flyers, the PSJRA has tried it.
And the problem has simply grown; finding a parking space on Reid during the lunch hour is near impossible.
“We need to do something,” said Commissioner David Ashbrook.
PSJRA executive director Bill Kennedy said he had visited and had discussions with officials in High Springs, a town of approximate size, and said establishing the two-hour limit solved the vast majority of parking issues in the business sector.
Enforcement would be a hurdle, though Kennedy said that in High Springs just putting up signs about the parking limit eliminated the vast majority of problems.
“You make the move forward hoping for compliance,” said Commissioner Scott Hoffman. “Anything would be better than the current situation.”
At one point during the crafting of its golf course ordinance, the city explored establishing a system for collecting fines through the Gulf County Tax Collector’s Office, but never followed through, Buzzett said.
Buzzett said he doubted there has ever been a ticket written under the golf cart ordinance and said enforcement of the parking policy was a question for down the road.
Commissioners approved a lease agreement with Gulf District Schools for the tennis courts at Lamar Faison Fields, adjacent to the high school soccer fields.
The lease is solely for the area within the fence, said city attorney Clint McCahill.
The city hopes to resurface the court and Hoffman noted the possibility of receiving grant funding to put up new lights.
The lease emerged from city discussions concerning creating separate courts for tennis and pickleball, with the courts at Frank Pate Park now to be primarily for pickleball.