Traffic Circulation Study and Parking Thoughts

No, or I should say few, other topics generate so many diverse opinions.  We need parking, but the City of Fernandina’s parking requirements change from season to season.  Beach accesses in July appear to be scarce.  In January, they appear far too numerous.  Regardless, downtown parking and beach parking are very separate issues, with different seasons.

Beach parking comes with the right to use recreational spaces.  We have some areas with less access points and a perception of nearly private beach space.  Other areas are squeezed by surrounding commercial development and more on the way.  Does it make sense to consider paid parking?  I read one variation with a certain logic and, in my opinion, those opposing any paid parking will agree when actual public access becomes an issue.  Sadler and Atlantic areas will be the first to see some form of paid parking, given the surrounding commercial uses requiring added parking to access.   FHUIEqOZS6uO8oI0gNVjnA.jpg

Downtown parking is an entirely different issue and other considerations, like the marina, waterfront, street openings and traffic, all make the issue far more complex.  The season is becoming an “all year” season in the Historic District and a scarcity of parking for dining or shopping during peak times is becoming apparent to anyone with a business.  I’m able to find a space before 11:30, but after lunch, I’m often searching or walking.  This isn’t improved as I see some merchants located on Centre using space in front of side street storefronts for “All Day” parking.  Yes, I think we’re spoiled and are going through a period of adjustment, but we also need to be proactive to preserve the high level of access to business and a tourist attraction.  img_0575

If you doubt the attention given to the subject, see the link below.  The conversation comes up over and over, with repeated, but slightly different studies over the years.

City of Fernandina “Parking” Search Results

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We are currently awaiting response to a Request for Proposal fro a traffic consultant to reevaluate a prior study by Zev Cohen, with updates.  The only suggestion I would have is to consider whether you want the same consultant to update or would prefer to make a point of using a second consultant to validate findings and recommendations.   Hopefully, we will be able to move forward on recommendations after paying for advice.   In an election year, note the timing.  The response will be after November and may mean two new commission members.  This election will, again, be about parking, the waterfront, street openings and I hope not about “kicking the can down the road”.

A portion of the CoFB request for bids to re-evaluate a previously completed study by Zev Cohen.  Source: www.fbfl.us 7/20/18

SCOPE OF WORK

The purpose of this project is to review, reconsider, and re-evaluate, a previously completed, but now dated, document: Waterfront CRA Master Plan Traffic Circulation and Parking Study (Zev Cohen & Associates; 2009).

The review effort should focus upon the same Primary and Secondary Study Areas, described on Page 6 of the original report. Within those areas, pedestrian and vehicular activity has markedly increased due to population trends and commercial activity.

The City has struggled for many years to achieve political consensus regarding waterfront redevelopment. The challenges have included railroad crossings, parking facilities and capacity, parks, and related infrastructure. The City’s Marina, severely damaged during Hurricane Matthew, is scheduled to be rebuilt within the next twelve months. The results of this Traffic Circulation and Parking Study will be utilized to determine key facets of future waterfront and downtown redevelopment.

Primary stakeholders of this project include officials and staff from the City of Fernandina Beach, the City of Fernandina Beach Main Street organization, the Ocean Highway and Port Authority, the State of Florida Department of Transportation, and the Genesee and Wyoming Railroad officials. Each of these agencies should be engaged as part of this project.

The goal is to complete this review by December, 2018, including a presentation to the City Commission of the study’s findings no later than December 18, 2018.

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