The City of Safety Harbor has gained some additional public parking, as the City Commission approved a temporary lease agreement with a downtown property owner on Monday night.
The agreement, which is for one year with a pair of annual renewal clauses built in, calls for the City to pay the property taxes on the lot, which is located at the northwest corner of Main Street and Second Avenue North.
In 2014, the tax bill on the property was $9,319.68.
Before unanimously approving the agenda item, the commissioners asked city staff a few questions about the arrangement.
“I’m just curious about the base of the parking area. Is that going to be crushed shell or stone?” Vice Mayor Andy Zodrow asked.
“It’s my understanding that we aren’t going to put crushed shell everywhere, but that we’re going to fix areas that could be a potential tripping hazard, even some things out and put it where it’s needed,” Safety Harbor Planning Director Marcie Stenmark replied.
City Manager Matt Spoor confirmed the shells would be used at the entry aprons where cars enter the lot and added there will be three entry points to the property, on Main Street, on Second Avenue North and in an alley behind the lot.
Under the terms of the agreement, which can be terminated by either party at any time with a 45-day notice, the City will clean up the lot, put a split-rail wood fence along the boundaries that have no curbs, put stakes around the tress to prevent root damage, and place signs on the property that announce the lot is for free public parking with no overnight parking allowed.
Additionally, private event organizers may ask permission from the City to use the lot for special events, and if given approval, they would be able to charge for parking. The City would collect no money from the arrangement.
While some commissioners expressed reservations about issues like leaving the lot unattended and not having clearly defined parking spots, Spoor said the city is treating the lot like any other public parking facility.
“We’re not going to treat this any differently than any other public parking lot,” Spoor later told Safety Harbor Connect, noting that people who are used to parking in overflow lots know how to use them.
“We’re going to clean it up and keep it simple.”
Although Commissioner Carlos Diaz disagreed with the proposal when it was discussed during a commission meeting last month, saying, “We’re basically taking this property off the tax rolls,” the item ultimately passed by a 5-0 vote on Monday.
The lot is expected to officially open by November 1st, with the work to be completed sometime around the first of the year.
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