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Gasparilla Inn Letter: Keep Boca Grande as ‘welcoming town’ in all parking discussions

June 7, 2024
By Boca Beacon


Editor’s note: Wednesday, The Gasparilla Inn sent a Letter to the Editor concerning parking in Boca Grande. The letter, from President and General Manager Brent Cross, is below:

Serving as both residents and business owners, we recognize the importance of addressing parking concerns while preserving the unique characteristics that makes our island so special. We express our enthusiastic support for maintaining the charm and feel of our beloved Gasparilla Island while addressing the parking concerns that affect our community.

Gasparilla Island’s allure lies not only in its pristine beaches and natural beauty, but also in its quaint streets and pleasant community.  However, the increasing demand for parking presents a challenge that must be carefully managed to ensure our island retains its character and accessibility to residents and visitors alike.  As momentum builds for development and housing projects nearby, we must be diligent and take initiative to create safe and functional parking plan. 

As we explore potential approaches to parking management, it is essential that we prioritize ideas that complement the island’s aesthetic and enhance the overall experience for residents and visitors. By analyzing parking patterns, assessing existing infrastructure, and exploring innovative solutions, we can develop a tailored approach that balances the needs of residents, businesses, and visitors while mitigating any negative impacts on our town’s ambiance. Any proposed solutions should integrate seamlessly with our existing streetscapes and preserve the natural beauty that defines Gasparilla Island.  

We urge careful consideration of the impacts of any proposed parking measures on residents, particularly those in close proximity to proposed solutions. It is essential to minimize disruptions and ensure that the needs and preferences of all members of our community are respected.  An ability to control parking on specific roads, access to monitor parking levels, and limitations to the duration of parking is important in proposed plans.       

The seasonal nature of the island should also be considered in the solutions, as some of the parking headaches and high demands only fall during certain months of the year.  In return, this allows businesses to operate on a 12-month demand when majority of the island residents are not present. It is important to understand that the season continues to expand and the viability of businesses rely on revenues during the “off season”.  Specific ordinances which hinder non-island resident parking during these off-season months can be detrimental to the financial successes of local merchants.

Furthermore, we believe that community engagement is key to finding sustainable and inclusive parking solutions. By fostering open dialogue among residents, business owners, and local officials, we can identify shared priorities, address concerns, and collaboratively develop strategies that benefit our entire community.  Ability for controlled parking in various areas including the Gilchrist median for church services and events should be planned and the potential use of mutually agreed upon county parking for those who want to experience the island’s merchants and restaurants for the day. The island has always been a welcoming town for businesses, residents, and visitors. We want to ensure the alterations to the parking plan only enhance the Boca Grande community and do not diminish the island experience we all know and love. 

We look forward to the continued involvement and on-going conversations. We trust our community will come together to find balance and show unity to rectify our parking issues.