Tired of talk, Wilton Manors commissioners directed city staff to create a shuttle service to help alleviate some of the parking problems along Wilton Drive.
“We’ve been talking about parking for years and years here. We need to get off our rear end and do something about it,” said Commissioner Scott Newton. “We need to get something done to make Wilton Drive easier to get to,” added Vice Mayor Justin Flippen.
Per the commission, city staff will devise a schedule of run times and stops for the shuttle, a city vehicle, and look into negotiating a contract to bring a private company into possibly provide the shuttle service. Commissioners will also discuss the future of Lanier’s relationship with the city when Lanier’s contract comes up for renewal at the next meeting.
Business owner Nick Berry suggested the city start providing the service just on two nights, Friday and Saturday, when parking is most in demand. He also suggested that the city help subsidize the shuttle service by asking businesses to pay money to fund stops. He said business owners would want to contribute so they could put stops right in front of their businesses and encourage customers to spend money there.
The discussion on the shuttle service came during a presentation of the parking study authored by Lanier Parking, the firm which oversees the city’s parking enforcement program.
“The study looked at the supply and demand of parking in the Wilton Drive corridor and makes several recommendations for our consideration, said Bob Mays, the city’s finance director and parking contract administrator.
“The goal of the study was to verify the adequacy of public parking in the Wilton Drive corridor and to identify strategies to meet the demand. I think anyone who has spent any time in Wilton Manors understands the parking dynamics enough,” said Fred Bredemeyer, a representative of Lanier.
The recommendations in the study include the possible construction of a garage on the Hagen Park lot, encouraging restaurant and bar employees to use off-street parking to free up on-street parking for customers, the establishment of a valet service, enhanced wayfinding signs (something the city is already implementing), and the shuttle service.
“The idea is to create a parking solution that works for the whole corridor,” said Bredemeyer. He estimated that a shuttle service could cost between $75,000 and $100,000 a year. But that’s too high for the commission.
Mayor Gary Resnick suggested possibly subsidizing a private shuttle service as the most cost-effective way of providing a service. I’d rather subsidize something like that than a shuttle that runs up and down Wilton Drive.” He also said he would like to see technology used more. “More people are using phones than [paying at the] meters. People are embracing technology. I would like to explore ways to use technology to make parking more efficient.”
Also discussed was the possible designation of space near Wilton Drive for Uber and Lyft drivers to wait for requests for service.
Flippen said the study was important but noted that it “failed to capture the past use and, quite honestly, lack of success of the valet service along Wilton Drive. We did implement a valet system and it was not overly successful.”
Resnick said finding ways to bring people to Wilton Drive without needing their cars was the overall goal. “To me, that eliminates a lot of the parking need.”