The 2014 Safety Harbor municipal election is fast approaching, and following the recent candidate forum, many voters said they still had questions for the seven individuals vying for the three open commission seats.
So in addition to our individual candidate profiles, Safety Harbor Connect wanted to provide more feedback from the candidates in advance of the March 11 election.
We reached out to our readers and asked you to submit questions for the candidates, and in turn we would email them to all seven candidates and publish their responses; we hope to publish as many as possible in the run-up to election day.
The first question we chose from the submissions we received has to do with the issue of parking in the city:
Q- What goals, if any, do you have pertaining to Public Parking? What is your plan to facilitate ample parking as our events and our population continue to grow?
Below are the verbatim responses of each of the seven candidates, listed alphabetically by seat.
Let me start off by saying that in 2009 we completed a major project on 2nd St. South to improve the parking there so it now includes 111 spaces. This road is just one block from Main St and runs parallel to it so people visiting Main St and the downtown area now have parking in close proximity. We also improved the parking along N Bayshore in front of the Safety Harbor Spa to offer more parking spaces for our resident’s and visitor’s convenience. Moving forward we will need to look for more opportunities to improve and provide additional parking spaces along city right of ways.
My goal for public parking is to publicize the existing spots available in the city lot downtown and on peripheral streets such as 2nd. I hope to encourage people to walk and bike to festivals and events, if they can do so.
I want to work with city officials and the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office to brainstorm solutions to moving people in and out of our city for special events, while preserving resident and emergency vehicle mobility. I plan to encourage use of city recreation vehicles and the Jolley Trolley to meet those logistical challenges.
Finally, I believe work on safety and walk- ability of our city’s streets has begun. I will make continued refinement of those efforts a priority. This weekend I walked the length of Main with someone who normally remains in the car. She noticed shops and merchandise that she never did see from her vehicle!
I do not believe we presently have a parking issue on a day to day basis.
However, there are parking concerns that arise during major special events that the city or the event planner could better plan for.
The downtown area is designated as the Community Redevelopment District (CRD) and parking in the CRD is governed under Sec. 147.05(F) of the Code. So, if the current parking situation is not meeting the demand of residents and businesses then the Commission should review and make necessary adjustments to the code. The CRA has increased parking in the public rights-of-way in several locations downtown and we should continue to look for opportunities to add more in order to support the needs of our citizens.
For normal everyday operations the parking shortage tends to be central to patrons of businesses on Main Street and the side streets off of Main Street where residential homes have been converted to a restaurant/business, which produces limited adjacent on-street parking. In this instance patrons may need to park nearby, possible within the same block, and walk to the business. Businesses that experience this issue may want to consider the option of expanding parking on their property where adequate land exists.
For special events parking is always a challenge. We host great events that draw lots of people from all over. One of the events that cause the most parking issues is the 4th of July Fireworks show; during this event in particular almost all of the side streets for roughly a ½ mile from downtown are jammed with parked vehicles making roads dangerously congested. I would recommend that the Commission look into running trams, buses and/or the Jolley Trolley from remote parking lots in order to ferry people to and from the event. This would centralize the parking and remove congestion on side roads.
Other ideas to consider would be to extend the CRA area, incorporate more shoulder parking spots, and partner with the Spa, churches, and other business to utilize parking during special events.
The big thing is to make sure that we have a thoughtful approach to this problem and don’t jump into the business of creating parking lots all over the place. We need to utilize the resources, to include parking areas and funds, wisely and look for creative ways to maximize these resources without compromising our green space.
Before I make any goals pertaining to Public Parking, I would first need to evaluate what the current problems and complaints are concerning parking issues. I do not believe that the City has a current parking problem other than during special events.
The City should probably evaluate whether there are any additional public lands in the downtown business district that could provide special event parking. Since there is a direct correlation between development and parking, through responsible growth and land-use decisions, the City can avoid the kind of parking problems that have adversely impacted other communities.
As has been done in the past few years, the city needs to look for more opportunities to add parking on city right of ways. Part of this task is addressed in the Community Redevelopment(CRD) code for downtown that requires minimum parking provisions by businesses. We must make sure that we are able to attract different businesses in downtown where the requirement for parking is complimentary and not competitive to each business. This will not only soften the parking issues but also add diverse traffic flow into downtown for all businesses. As our downtown progresses, businesses will see the need to invest in provisioning for parking and comply with the CRD to make their business more accessible.
Additional consideration will be needed during special events, when parking will be in highest demand. For these events, perhaps the city can permit parking in areas where parking is not normally allowed on right of ways and also work with businesses in the surrounding areas that are in off-hours to allow special event parking on their property. These open parking areas then can be advertised on the city website to let visitors know where they may find a spot.
Ray R. Irvin
Parking is a difficult problem for many communities around the country and requires a careful balance of space available, numbers needed , times of need, funding available, revenue gained, possible shared uses, and our communities wishes.
At this point I have not spent enough time researching these issues but will do so if elected. I do know that other communities like ours have had simulator problems and have found creative resolutions. I recently looked at one solution in BroadRipple IN where they built a Parking Garage and Transit Center but there situation is much different than ours. and I would not see something like that working here in SH. So I need to do a lot more research before I would even be able to offer the community several options, costs and time lines to consider for their community.
Stay with Safety Harbor Connect for the next installment in this series. And if you have a question for the candidates, please submit it here. No registration is required.
- Unanswered Candidate Forum Questions (2/12/14)
- Forum Helps Clarify Safety Harbor Candidates’ Positions (1/29/14)
- Safety Harbor 2014 Municipal Election Candidate Profiles (1/22/14)
- Safety Harbor Candidate Forum Set For Jan. 29 (1/8/14)
- Former Mayor Andy Steingold Qualifies For 2014 Municipal Election 1/7/14
- Safety Harbor Candidate Pool Keeps Growing 12/12/13
- It’s Official: Nancy Besore Running For Mayor of Safety Harbor 12/11/13
- Commissioner Nancy Besore To Resign, Run For Mayor of Safety Harbor 12/10/13
- Deadline For Safety Harbor Election Candidates Approaching 12/6/13
- Commissioner Nina Bandoni Won’t Seek Reelection 12/2/13
- Commission Approves Safety Harbor Election Move 11/19/13
- Mayor Ayoub Opts To Run For Reelection 11/13/13
- Safety Harbor Mayor Might Run For Congress 11/4/13
- Safety Harbor Could Switch 2014 Election Back To March 11/4/13