Town might open dirt lot for Coligny Beach parking

dburley@islandpacket.comJune 18, 2014 

Matt and Jen Robinson, of Savannah, lounge in some lawn chairs as Miller Farrell, of Florida, cruises by on a skimboard while at Coligny Beach Park on June 15, 2014.

THEOPHIL SYSLO — Theophil Syslo Buy Photo

Coligny-area residents and business owners fed up with beachgoers parking on their property might get temporary relief this summer.

The Town of Hilton Head Island is considering opening a dirt lot along Pope Avenue to increase Coligny Beach parking, town staff members said Wednesday. The town-owned lot currently holds dumpsters with waste from the beach and is used as a staging site for construction projects, director of community development Charles Cousins said.

It is not clear how many cars could fit on the lot or when it would open for parking, he said. The town might need to build a fence to separate public parking from the dumpsters and construction equipment, staff attorney Brian Hulbert said.

If allowed, the lot would only be used temporarily, according to town manager Steve Riley.

"Whenever we ultimately decide to build on the property, any (parking) will be lost as soon as construction begins," he said in a letter to Planning Commission chairwoman Gail Quick.

Quick announced the town's intent at a commission meeting Wednesday, receiving cheers from Coligny residents and business owners who say beach visitors intrude on their property when the town's Pope Avenue parking lot fills up. That parking lot is next to the dirt lot where parking is being considered.

"Every Friday, Saturday, Sunday, I'm out there kicking people out of my parking lot, and it's just not right," said David Martin, owner of the Piggly Wiggly at Coligny Plaza. "I have to tell them to go park illegally because there's just no place to go."

He estimated the dirt lot has space for between 100 and 200 cars.

"This is a good chance to see if we can alleviate some parking issues in real life, rather than just doing consulting and another study," he said.

Quick agreed, urging the town to open the lot before tourism peaks this summer.

"We're looking at the Fourth of July coming up and heavy tourism through August," she said. "Let's get something done before July 1."

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