The rough draft parking plan issued by Lee County DOT last month includes 148 parking spaces, public walkthroughs, handicapped spaces, as well as “no parking” and “keep off median” signs.
The biggest bone of contention, however, is the plan’s proposed parallel parking on the lefthand side of the avenue.
Manning’s office has received more than 40 emails about the proposal since it was announced. It is a mixed bag of islanders’ reactions, with the majority opposing the DOT plan.
Many expressed surprise at the parallel parking decision and wondered why Lee County wasn’t considering the “Community Plan,” which only reduces current parking capacity slightly, utilizes diagonal parking (as it is now) and includes additional landscaping and maintenance. Others told the commissioner they would be happy to leave parking unchanged.
“Frankly, I would be perfectly happy with the status quo, but if change has to come I believe the Community Plan best serves the majority of residents ... ” said Boca Grande resident Dick Nielsen in his email to the commissioner’s office. “From everything I have read and heard the vast majority of residents and property owners prefer the Community Plan.”
Another resident, Louisa R.C. Vestner, said, “Our island is evolving and of interest to more and more people, as is attested by the use of and attendance in the three churches ... this is not to say that the DOT needs to impose city-style solutions to our small island problems. As we leave the island and see 15 street lights installed and a sidewalk to nowhere, it’s reasonable for residents and taxpayers to say, ‘Who is ultimately responsible ... and WHAT IS GOING ON with our DOT in Charlotte and Lee Counties?”
Barbara Henningson sent an email saying that functions which draw cars are held mainly between December and early April. She added that many residents are elderly and can’t walk long distances and said, “... a median with brown grass is not the end of the world.”
Others were concerned about possible hazards.David Pearah said he was concerned about lefthand side parking, and said the DOT is not meeting the needs of churches, merchants and the Gasparilla Inn & Club. His suggestion? Use the Community Plan or do nothing.
On the other side of the debate, though, are several Gilchrist residents. In their communications with the commissioner, they said that they were happy with the proposal for parallel parking.
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