PLEASURE ISLAND — Residents in two neighboring beach towns will soon be able to purchase parking passes in both municipalities, allowing them local parking privileges across Pleasure Island.
On Monday, Carolina Beach Mayor Lynn Barbee visited the Kure Beach Town Council to discuss a parking partnership, a goal of Carolina Beach’s recent program reconfigurations.
The original idea — dubbed the Pleasure Island Parking Pass — arose in Carolina Beach’s parking committee. It formed over the summer to offer suggestions to council on program improvements. Feedback from the committee showed residents desired the ability to visit the neighboring beach town without having to pay parking rates.
Carolina Beach council passed its amendments to the parking program in October. Included was the option to develop a Pleasure Island parking pass pending the participation of Kure Beach.
When Barbee approached Kure Beach leaders Monday, the plan had morphed. Instead of a joint parking pass, the proposal included each town participating in the neighboring town’s parking program. Yet, Barbee said the accounting needed to distribute funds to the appropriate towns would be too complex.
“I think this led us to this very simple structure,” Barbee said at the meeting.
Now, a Kure Beach resident has the choice to purchase a parking pass in Carolina Beach for the same $40 fee as Carolina Beach residents. The reverse is also true, but Kure Beach’s fee is $20. Residents who want the ability to park anywhere and avoid hourly rates will need to pay a total of $60 per year.
At the Monday meeting, every Kure Beach council member was on board with the partnership; the vote to approve the deal was unanimous.
“I definitely want a joint pass because I want to be able to go get tacos without paying the rates,” councilmember David Heglar said at the meeting. “ I’m well in favor of doing this.”
One concern raised by Carolina Beach council members during discussions was the town’s limited spaces. Member Deb LeCompte worried extending cheaper parking access to another town’s population would further strain the town’s capacity. Carolina Beach’s population is around 6,500, while Kure Beach has 2,100 people.
“At some point in time we’re going to have to limit passes,” LeCompte said at an Oct. 11 Carolina Beach council meeting.
The town’s ratio of passes sold to parking spaces is 5:1. It is hard to calculate how that would change with the Pleasure Island partnership.
“There are so many indirect and direct impacts on parking it would be difficult to determine,” executive assistant to the town manager Sheila Nicholson said to Port City Daily. “We do see continued rise in demands annually.”
She added the town receives “minimal complaints” from patrons concerned about finding parking.
Kure Beach Mayor Craig Bloszinsky was not as concerned about exceeding capacity, despite Carolina Beach’s population quadrupling Kure Beach. The latter’s parking spaces only account for a sixth of its neighbor’s total.
“The communities have different complexities, different personalities, as well as the beaches,” Bloszinsky said Monday. “We don’t believe it is highly likely we will see a lot of people coming from Carolina Beach to go to our family, quiet beach, and probably not a lot of our residents going down to, let’s call it the more ‘entertaining beach’ that is in Carolina Beach.”
Conversations between both councils indicate the program will mostly be used for short trips to restaurants or island-wide events, like the July 4th fireworks show.
Anyone who wishes to take advantage of the new program, slated to become finalized in December, will need to follow the appropriate procedure in each town. Carolina Beach offers online registration, while Kure Beach requires residents to visit town hall and prove residency. The pass will not be available until the deal is formalized.
If passed, there will be a limit on the number of resident passes available for purchase per household in Kure Beach — two vehicles per home; additional passes can be bought for $100 each. Carolina Beach does not stipulate a limit.
Reach journalist Brenna Flanagan at email@example.com