KURE BEACH — When the tourism season begins next spring, Kure Beach may no longer hold the title as Hanover County’s last remaining beach town to offer free parking.
Town Council voted on Monday night to send out a Request for Proposal (RFP) to a list of parking management firms as it further explores switching over to a paid parking program for the 632 municipal spaces that are currently free to use for visitors and residents. The RFP is still in draft form and is subject to procurement requirements, which will identify a list of candidates who could compete for the contract.
The councilmen unanimously approved Mayor Craig Bloszinksy’s proposal to send out the RFP to five parking management firms within the month. He said a timeline will be approved at the next council meeting so a final decision can be made by the end of the year, “so we can execute next year, if we so deem to execute; if it makes sense.”
Another councilman said he was familiar with an independent study conducted several years ago finding that a three-year contract would cost the town $100,000 per year.
“And we would have not made a great deal of money off of that,” he said.
Bloszinksy said the “backbone of the current request essentially has this going to a type of app payment so that we don’t have meters sticking out at every parking space.” He explained how the town had been exploring the idea for several years.
“Now I think we’re at a point in time that we should see if the town will have any benefits associated with some type of parking program,” he said.
Further south and to the east along the southern Brunswick County coastline, most coastal towns offer some form of free municipal parking spaces, including Southport and Oak Island. Meanwhile, the two other New Hanover beach towns — Carolina Beach and Wrightsville Beach — make millions off parking revenue paid largely by tourists.
One point of confusion in the drafted RFP was mentioned: it says parking enforcement under the contract would start March 15 and end September 30 every year, but on a different page it says the season duration is from May 15 to September 30. The mayor did not clarify which date range was correct.
The RFP states that the town wishes to “explore the viability of paid parking” because the town’s population spikes to roughly 8,000 people during the warm (and then hot) tourism season, and its tourism industry is “extremely important to its economic base and it is important to consider the parking needs of the community in the height of the tourist season.”
“The town must balance the parking needs of property owners with the competing needs of residents, businesses and beach visitors. Sound parking management practices and enforcement are crucial to striking a balance between these interests,” according to the RFP.
Details of the paid parking structure are listed as:
- Parking enforcement under this contract will begin on March 15 and end on September 30 each year.
- Enforcement hours are from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
- Town property owners can receive a parking pass that will allow unlimited free access to paid parking spaces. The cost of the pass shall be nominal.
Types of parking are listed as:
- Beach accesses
- Fort Fisher Blvd.
- Designated avenues
- Private lot option to partner with the town
- Long-term parking allowed at all beach access points on Atlantic Ave. and Northside K. Ave.
- Short-term spots designated at 3 hours on south side of K Ave.
- Reduced parking cost all day and hourly on 6th St. and 7th St.
- Locals park free with paid decal.
- Sunday parking on 3rd Ave. and 6th Ave. is free from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. for worship services.
Read the full drafted proposal below:
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