NEPTUNE BEACH, Fla. -- You'll have to pay to park at the Beaches Town Center in Neptune Beach, if the city council approves a new measure.
Those with the city said they could charge roughly $2 per hour to park in the shopping and dining area.
If approved, the metered parking would go into effect beginning next year.
At the Beaches Town Center, you'll find plenty of places to eat, but not plenty of places to park, as Karen and George Hadden, who are visiting from Cleveland, are finding out.
"Definitely with the public parking, there needs to be more of it," Karen Hadden said.
That's at least part of the reason the City of Neptune Beach is looking to charge people to park.
"It's great that lots of people want to come there, but there's absolutely no parking left, so we have to do something," Neptune Beach city council member Rory Diamond said.
Diamond said plans are still in the works, but the city is already looking at vendors to supply meters. The plan would provide Neptune Beach residents with free or reduced-price parking.
Lack of parking is one reason for adding meters. The other reason has to do with the eventual expiration of the Better Jacksonville Plan, which Diamond said supplies $400,000 per year to the city.
"Why not charge tourists to park, rather than raise taxes. This is an easy 'win-win' for the community," Diamond said.
As a tourist, Hadden said she's never had to pay for parking in other cities in the southeast like Charleston.
"From other places that we've been to that are similar to this, they don't charge for parking, and honestly there's never a problem for us finding a parking spot," she said.
Blaine Hepburn of Atlantic Beach isn't a fan of the idea.
"They'll be losing customers for the businesses out here, nobody will want to come out here," Hepburn said.
According to Diamond, Neptune Beach would like to coordinate parking plans with neighboring Atlantic Beach, which borders the town center and currently is not charging for parking. Atlantic Beach is considering paid parking, but plans are not definite, according to Atlantic Beach city commissioner John Stinson.
"The goal is not to hammer people, the goal is just to turn over our parking and raise some revenue," Diamond said.
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