To borrow a line from “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” by Samuel Taylor Coleridedge — “Water, water everywhere, nor any drop to drink.”
That’s about how some folks are starting to feel about parking around our not so small “fishing village” – not so much a problem finding a drop to drink, but finding a parking space to get down to our beautiful waterfront.
There’s no doubt Destin has the most beautiful beaches and emerald green water around. And in 2011, the boardwalk along Destin harbor was completed and is something to be very proud of.
But again, where do folks find a parking spot if they just want to stroll along the boardwalk?
In 2013 the city of Destin completed the Marler Street parking lot at the corner of U.S. 98 and Marler Street with 147 parking spaces including six handicap spots. The whole idea was to alleviate some of the parking congestion in the harbor district. At the time they also updated the city’s parking lot on Zerbe Street.
No doubt the parking areas were needed and used by many, locals and tourists alike.
However, last year the city decided to change the Marler Street parking lot to a pay-to-park venue. Most days, since it has gone to a pay-to-park lot, it has remained mostly empty.
Now the city is looking to make the parking area at the Destin Community Center a pay-to-park area, as well as the parking area on Zerbe Street.
For years, folks have used these areas to park and walk over to the harbor, for pleasure and to work.
Many around town are dismayed by making these areas paid.
Not to fret, the Community Center parking lot will be free during their hours of operation to those who are using the center. All that is needed is a pass, which you can get for free at the front desk of the center.
But if you’re looking to use this area to park after hours, expect to pay.
Maybe that’s not a bad idea.
The numbers show that the Marler Street parking lot has brought in close to $10,000 since it went to pay-to-park. We understand that the monies are to help maybe one day pay for additional parking such as a parking garage.
But why not offer a parking pass for local “city residents” that can be used all the time for the various city parking lots. Pay one price for the year, and not have to worry about getting ticketed. The city already has something very similar in place for city residents to use Joe’s Bayou Boat Ramp.
At least let’s give the locals a chance to park and play in their own city without having to feed the digital meter every time.