Hilton Head beachgoers likely won’t be paying for parking at Coligny Beach anytime soon.
This comes after the Town Council decided at its annual workshop Friday to not include the issue of paid parking at island beaches on its 2018 priority list. The matter was initially debated Thursday on the first day of the two-day workshop, held at the Omni resort’s oceanfront hotel.
“The stuff we have to do consumes so much of our budget; the stuff we’d like to do is difficult to get to,” town manager Steve Riley told council members during Friday’s discussion about beach parking. “I would tell you there are probably other areas where you could make better use of your resources in the next couple of years.”
Riley said Coligny Beach had paid parking up until 2008 or 2009. The daily $5 charge generated about $100,000 in revenue each year, he said.
“If you just suddenly impose $5 an hour or something at the Coligny parking lot, you will drive a lot of discontent in the condos, the other merchants,” Riley said. “You’ve really got to treat Coligny as a downtown and create a parking plan for the whole place.”
“And that is not going to be a quick and easy fix,” he continued, “and it may not be profitable at the end of the day.”
Council member Marc Grant said, however, implementing paid parking was “forward thinking.” Council member Bill Harkins agreed.
“We’ve kicked this around,” Harkins said. “And you know what’s going to happen next year? There’s going to be other projects that are more important than this, and we’re going to kick it down again. … By taking an immediate, tough stand and making a decision, we could create some revenue.”
Council member David Ames said the beach parking issue more broadly reflects the town’s attitude toward day visitors.
“It’s a much bigger deal than just parking meters,” he said. “At some point we have to decide how we are — how the town — is going to deal with the impacts of day-trippers.”
Ultimately, council members chose to prioritize nearly a dozen other issues for 2018, including:
▪ Developing and implementing an islandwide “vision” plan;
▪ Hurricane recovery;
▪ Workforce development;
▪ Bridge issues; and
▪ Creating a staff position to advance native islander issues.