Parking kiosks to expire on Bay Street, coin meters to return

January 18, 2011 

Less than seven months after they appeared, the electronic pay stations on Beaufort's Bay Street will be replaced this week by coin-only parking meters.

City Council voted Tuesday to move the six kiosks along Bay Street -- which accepted debit and credit cards along with cash and coins -- to other downtown parking lots and install double-space coin-only meters like those on West, Scott and Port Republic streets.

The switch will cost about $4,000, officials said Tuesday.

The move comes after months of complaints from merchants and customers.

Council last week changed hourly parking rates and time limits throughout downtown to give drivers cheaper prices and more time the further they park from Bay Street.

Council also increased the time limit along Bay Street from two to three hours per spot.

Improving downtown parking is an ongoing process, Councilman Mike McFee said Tuesday, adding that "this is just the beginning."

The kiosks will be moved to parking lots at the downtown marina, the library and the Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park playground, according to city manager Scott Dadson.

"For those people who appreciated the convenience of paying for parking with a (debit or credit) card or dollar bills, it will take some adjusting to going back to carrying coins in the car -- or they can still use the kiosks in the lots," Dadson said.

City, developer find compromise on Olive Garden/Red Lobster

The debate between the city of Beaufort and a developer over how far from Boundary Street a planned Olive Garden and Red Lobster restaurant would be built seems to be resolved.

The main point of contention was a "slip road" between Boundary and the restaurant. City staff said it wouldn't fit with a pedestrian-friendly environment it is striving for. Local development company 303 Associates said the street was necessary for parking lot traffic flow and claimed the city's own Boundary Street Master Plan called for a "slip road" in that area.

During a workshop Tuesday, Mayor Billy Keyserling said the city likely will allow the road, but has asked the restaurant to shift west to allow room for another building along Boundary. The more buildings fronting the street, the more urban the feel, Keyserling said.

The project will go through the typical Design Review Board process for plan approval, despite 303 Associates' request that City Council approve the plans.

"They have agreed they would be treated like everyone else," Keyserling said.

Craig Lewis, a consultant and member of the city's "Build Beaufort" team, worked with the developers as a liaison along with Redevelopment Commission chairman Jon Verity.

Lewis said they will work to make sure the slip road is built to accommodate future uses by the city and said the developers also are open to "making some changes and tweaks" to the building's facade.

"Clearly the challenge is taking a suburban model and trying to put it in an urban center," Keyserling said, adding that he'd like to see a row of on-street parking in front of the restaurants eventually.

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