SURF CITY, NC (WWAY) — Despite freezing temperatures, area beach towns are getting ready for summer, making decisions on parking.
Thursday, North Topsail Beach announced starting March 1, they are implementing paid parking. Now, the last vestiges of free parking beach towns like Surf City are considering making the change as well.
Friday morning, the town of Surf City called a special meeting to discuss the topic. They plan to make a final decision on Tuesday.
According to Doug Medlin, Surf City’s mayor and a resident for 69 years, the town has considered making the jump for decades. Surf City’s recent growth and the pandemic sending more people outdoors and to the beaches has brought more attention to the issue.
“It has gotten really unsafe because of the way people were parking,” Medlin explained. “They were just parking all over the place. Parking up and down the sides of the road. And it put a big burden on our police department.”
This cost the town and taxpayers thousands. On top of that, the town manager, Kyle Breuer said Surf City and Topsail Beach have signed onto a federal renourishing project to protect their beaches.
“Revenues from paid parking can go toward a myriad of items,” said Breuer. “But mainly, it’s to help fund that initial construction of that beach nourishment project as well as ongoing renourishing efforts over the next 50 years.”
A project the North Topsail town manager, David Gilbride said will cost them 16 million dollars in just their initial payment.
The issue has understandable drawn a lot more attention to the beach towns.
Mayor Medlin said he’s received more than 700 emails since they’ve announced their consideration.
Travelers like Shantel, a Sneads Ferry resident, seem overwhelmingly opposed.
“Apps and paying and all of that adds extra stress and expense to your day,” Shantel said, “when you could just show up and enjoy the beach.”
But many residents like Yogi Paliogti say they are pleased the onus could be taken off the taxpayers, taking care of their beaches and keeping the community safe.
“Safety,” Paliogti said, “Our streets are congested and clogged up every weekend. You can’t get around. And there’s kids running loose from their parents in the road. I’ve had several close calls with almost hitting people.”
Town leaders will meet Tuesday to decide on paid parking, and will allow public comment.
Though neither Surf City, nor North Topsail Beach have decided on parking rates, they both say they will offer parking passes to town residents.