Despite the apparent need for additional parking, Hilton Head Island Town Council has nixed improvements to the dirt lot next to the Coligny Beach parking lot on Pope Avenue.
Citing the $47,000 price tag, town leaders decided it was too much money to spend at the season's midpoint to create 30 to 40 new parking spots. The lot would not have been ready before mid-August.
Fair enough. But town leaders should act and get a jump on improvements that will provide additional parking for summer 2015 instead of waiting for a new round of complaints from merchants and residents to set them into motion.
Two possibilities are currently under consideration:
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Council members are weighing the two options and want to see the results of a Pope Avenue parking lot-area traffic study before deciding which to choose.
We would urge them not to drag out this process and continue the tiresome history of lots of discussion but little action on fixing parking problems in Coligny.
Ultimately, ether option is a stopgap measure. Mayor Drew Laughlin is correct that the permanent fix is a parking deck. Plans for it too should get underway as soon as possible. As we have previously stated, modern parking decks can be designed to be low-profile and blend in with their surroundings.
We appreciate some Coligny neighbors' hesitation to have a parking deck in their backyard. But more compelling is the fact that Coligny is a top tourist destination and that other upgrades are on the way to increase tourist traffic to the area, likely including a children's museum and a park, paid for by proceeds from a tax incremental financing district. Changes to the town's land management plan are also meant to revitalize Coligny and other hot spots, making them more appealing to visitors.
Since the town is squarely focused on attracting tourists to Coligny, it's only sensible to create adequate parking. That's particularly true when TIF proceeds are available to pay for a parking deck.
Coligny needs both a short-term and long-term parking solution, not more hemming and hawing. It's up to Town Council to move on the issue, not mull it further.