County narrows Gilchrist parking proposals down to three, expects to present to commissioners in April

March 13, 2015
By BBadmin7502

BY MARCY SHORTUSE – We’ve reported this before, but now it looks like it may come true: Lee County Commissioners seem to have plans to move forward with some sort of Gilchrist parking proposal.

There are three options on the table now, after a February 9 meeting between Assistant County Manager Doug Meurer, Department of Transportation Director Dave Loveland, Senior Traffic Engineer Steve Jansen, Staff Engineer Bryan Miller, Ryan Bell of Johnson Engineering and Jim Banks of JMB Transportation Engineering, Inc. Randy Cerchie, deputy director of Lee County DOT, presented the options to county commissioners via email on February 10.

Option 1 explores the possibility of expanding the existing parking lot at 5th Street to 90 spaces. This option would include no parking on the medians on the southern two blocks of Gilchrist (1st Street to 3rd Street), and allowing residents to design the landscape on those two median strips. Residents would be responsible for funding the project, as well as maintaining it. Lee County would implement its own landscaping on the northern two blocks of the Gilchrist median (3rd Street to 5th Street), and allow current parking practices. Lee County’s landscaping plan would organize parking better than it is now, with anticipated parking spaces numbering 102.

Total parking on Gilchrist with this option: 192 spaces

Option 2 includes the possibility of expanding the existing county-owned 5th Street parking lot to 90 spaces as well. No parking would be allowed on the two southern blocks (1st Street to 3rd Street), just like in option 1. The northern segments of the Gilchrist median (4th Street to 5th Street) would utilize parallel parking adjacent to the medians along those blocks, creating 96 parking spaces. This plan would allow residents to design, fund and maintain their own landscaping, as well as on the median.

Total parking with this option: 239 spaces

Option 3 also expands the 5th Street parking to 90 spaces, and still prohibits parking on the southern blocks of the Gilchrist median (1st Street to 3rd Street). It would create parallel parking along those blocks, about 66 spaces. Residents would also design, fund and maintain the median strip. This option also creates “northbound only” angled parking (60 degree) on the northern blocks of Gilchrist (3rd Street to 5th Street) and would implement Lee County’s proposed landscaping along those blocks.

Total parking with this option: 203 spaces.

“There are many opinions among the residents regarding parking and improvements to the median,” said Meurer in an email to Lee County commissioners on February 16. “We have had multiple meetings with stakeholders and their engineers … We have requested the engineers for the stakeholders look at the pros and cons of the three options outlined below by Randy Cerchie of DOT. We will then evaluate the options and provide a recommendation to the board.”

Lee County Communications Director Betsy Clayton said that while no date has been set in stone to bring the plans in front of county commissioners at a meeting, Lee County staff is hoping to move forward in April.