Carolina Beach Mayor LeAnn Pierce discusses frustration with decision to begin year-round parking

CAROLINA BEACH, NC (WWAY) — With a 3-2 vote by Carolina Beach Town Council, you have to pay to park at Carolina Beach year round, starting in the fall of 2022.

The off season rate will be $2 per hour and $10 per day.

Steve Shuttleworth, Jay Healy and Lynn Barbee cast the deciding votes, with council member Jodan Garza and Carolina Beach Mayor LeAnn Pierce being strongly against.

“I think there’s a lot of people who visit the beach in the off season because there is free parking, and there’s not the big crowds,” Pierce said. “And I think charging for parking is a mistake.”

Pierce says as a business owner herself, she’s very worried the added fee will be enough to cause potential visitors to head to other beaches in the off months.

“I think it is a disincentive for our business owners who we need to attract business in the offseason, in November, December, January and February,” Pierce added.

One store owner who shares Pierce’s concerns is Chad Davis, who says business is already slow in the off season and parking fees will likely make it worse.

“We need all the help we can get, you know? January, February — come to my shop and it’ll be a ghost town,” Davis said.

Davis feels many people who come to Carolina Beach in the off season do so due to the smaller crowds and cooler weather.

Davis says he’ll miss that atmosphere if people decide to take their business elsewhere to avoid the paid parking.

“It’s usually free,” Davis said. “You know, everybody comes, parks, surfs, gets out. I don’t know, it’s just the way it’s always been. I just don’t see a reason to change it.”

Town council members in favor of the parking decision say they hope the extra money will generate over $60,000 worth of revenue for the town.

In addition, council also announced plans to increase Freeman Park daily rates to $50 per day from April to September.

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