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Should Wrightsville Beach be required to provide parking near parks and elsewhere?

JJ Knight

Q. Wrightsville Beach is changing their parking ordinance. They are planning prohibiting all parking on Harbor Island unless you are a Wrightsville Beach resident. There are two public parks on Harbor Island. I believe Wrightsville Beach gets state and  county funds for several things including these parks. Can’t the New Hanover County Commissioners require that county parks have several parking spots for all county resident?

The town has also restricted parking at the park near the police station to 3 hours effectively eliminating it as a parking option for a “day at beach.” They are  also eliminating street parking in several other areas effective in May 2012.  These changes will severely limit access to the beach for other county and state residents. Again, the state and county provide funds that benefit Wrightsville Beach, including beach renourishment funds and DOT street and bridge maintenance. Can’t the state and the county have say in how much parking must remain for county and state residents?

A. Parking on Harbor Island, though scarce at times during peak tourism season, is open to public access and free for the most part, according to Wrightsville Beach Town Manager Bob Simpson. The main green space located off Bob Sawyer Drive, referred to by many as a park, does have free public parking. There is a three-hour time limit on these spaces, but that policy is not strictly enforced, Simpson said.

“That policy was put in place in response to businesses having employees park there for eight hours every day,” he said.

Though there are free parking options by the green space and town buildings, Simpson said metered spaces can be found on Old Causeway Drive.

After Memorial Day, another parking restriction will be put in place. On the south side of Causeway Drive, residents with parking passes will be allowed to park in a residential district from Island Drive to Banks Channel. On the north side, the district will extend from Coral Drive to the channel.

Parking regulations in the residential district will reflect those of the main island. Parking will be prohibited to anyone other than residents from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. March 1 through Oct. 31.

For beachgoers, this new district will mean a longer walk from a Harbor Island parking spot to the beach or, for those who can find a spot on Wrightsville Beach, ponying up $2 an hour to park at one of the metered spaces.


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Mike Lardieri

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