Carolina Beach rushing to fix parking issues before they drive tourists to private lots

CAROLINA BEACH, NC (WWAY) — The Town of Carolina Beach is on the hunt for a new parking management company after Tuesday’s town council meeting.

According to Mayor LeAnn Pierce, throughout the season, Carolina Beach received more complaints about parking meter issues than parking prices themselves.

“This year we had, we had an exorbitant amount of issues with parking,” said Mayor Pro Tem Jay Healy.”

In their Tuesday workshop, council members voted to end their contract with Reef Parking after multiple issues with meters, some out of commission for one to two weeks according to Healy.

“We’re looking for a fair price,” Healy continued. “We’re looking for issues being address immediately. And we’re looking to make more money.”

Council members Jay Healy and Lynn Barbee said the town has until March, when paid parking resumes, to solve these problems before parking meter issues drive visitors to privately owned lots.

“These are broken or not on,” said Paige, a visitor from Michigan about parking meters she tried.  “I guess we’ll have to drive around and find more places.”

The private lots are owned by third-parties and often charge far more than town-managed parking spots, taking revenue from Carolina Beach.

“They feed out into all kinds of budget items,” said Lynn Barbee. “Everything from parks and recreation, beach maintenance, boardwalk maintenance, all those sorts of things.”

Most private lots don’t advertise costs until customers go to pay.

“Customer service wise, we charge $20 a day,” Healy explained, “where the private lots charge between 40 and 45 dollars a day.
“Then you get in that parking lot, and you find out either you can’t park there, or its more expensive than the customer wants to pay. It creates confusion,” said Barbee.

That’s exactly what happened to Paige and her boyfriend Thursday, as they visited the are to decide whether to move here. After running into the broken meters, they pulled into a lot only to discover it cost $40 to park. They left disappointed.

“I just think that’s really important because, we don’t want to get our vehicle towed,” she said. “We’re not from the area. You know, this is a rental car, so we don’t need that.”

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