TREASURE ISLAND – After receiving numerous complaints about a $75 annual fee for beach parking permits, the Treasure Island City Commission is considering a resolution that would make the permits available for almost 50 percent less during a two-week period.
After a lengthy discussion on the topic Jan. 15, commissioners moved forward on a suggestion by Commissioner Phil Collins to offer the annual passes for $40 during the discounted period.
If the resolution passes on Feb. 5, city residents and nonresidents alike will have the opportunity to purchase the parking permits for two weeks at the discounted rate before they go back up to $75 for the rest of the year. Persons that have already purchased permits at the full price would be eligible for refunds and then be given the opportunity to buy them again at the discounted price.
“I think we need to have a two-week discounted period,” said Collins. “We could make it $40 and if you’re there a minute after midnight (at the end of the discount period), you have to wait until next year.”
The dates of the two-week period have not been determined but city residents would be notified well in advance, city officials said.
At its Dec. 18 meeting, commissioners voted to make beach parking permits available to both residents and nonresidents in an effort to head off a possible showdown with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection over beach renourishment funding.
Because the permits were offered only to city residents and not to nonresidents, DEP said the parking spaces the city counts toward its overall total to qualify for state renourishment funding would be voided, making renourishment unattainable for the city.
Since public funding is used toward renourishment, state guidelines require public beaches to have 100 public parking spaces per mile to be eligible for state renourishment funding.
State funding accounts for 40 percent of the cost of renourishment projects. Federal money accounts for another 40 percent and county funding for another 20 percent.
By opening the beach parking lots to nonresidents for the previous fee of just $5 per year, commissioners were concerned the city would lose parking meter revenue necessary for city services, such as beach cleanup and beach raking.
For that reason, commissioners decided $75 was a good direction to go.
The public didn’t agree.
“I encourage you to look for a solution other than charging $75,” said Phil Thullen, a resident of Tarpon Drive on Paradise Island.
Commissioner Alan Bildz said he didn’t favor any change.
“What does this revenue pay for?” he asked. “It’s trash pickup and beach raking. Now you want to decrease the amount? I’m against changing it (from $75).”
City Manager Reid Silverboard agreed.
“We need to be growing revenue, not shrinking it,” he said. “I think $75 is fair. The city needs the revenue and we can’t take a chance on disrupting our parking meter revenue.”
Mayor Bob Minning suggested a one-month discount on permit sales, charging everyone $30 or $35 for the annual pass.
Collins upped the ante to $40 and got a consensus.
In other action, commissioners:
• Passed an ordinance on first reading that extends restrictions on the consumption of alcohol on Sunset Beach from Feb. 2 through Sept. 29. During that span, alcohol is prohibited on the beach from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays, from 85th Avenue north to 95th Avenue.
• Approved $231,030 for repairs to the Beach Pavilion on Sunset Beach. City officials agreed to look into the cost of using waterless urinals in the restrooms.
• Passed a resolution allowing Brent Palmer of Oceanus Slides to operate a water slide on the public beach behind the Algiers Gulf Resort Motel at 11600 Gulf Blvd.
• Approved a request by Joe Kervivk of Super Parking and Bikes to operate a bicycle rental business on the Beach Trail.
• Approved $16,233 for emergency repairs to a storm drain located between 279 and 283 104th Ave.
• Agreed to enter into a contract with David King, owner of the Thunderbird Beach Resort, to redesign and reconstruct renovations on the Beach Trail to include an opening in the wall to the beach directly behind the hotel.