It’s not a new parking lot but commissioners hope the city’s new free shuttle service will have the same impact and alleviate the parking problems along Wilton Drive.
At their Feb. 28 meeting, commissioners approved the implementation of the shuttle service at an estimated cost of about $7,000 for the 90-day trial period.
There will be eight stops – city hall, the Shoppes of Wilton Manors, Strawberry Plaza, the parking lot at 2309 N. Dixie Hwy., the Northeast 8 Terrace parking lot, Northeast 7 Avenue on the north side of the street, the Zig Zag Building, and Richardson Park. Signs will be placed at the corresponding stops.
When implemented, an estimated four to six weeks from now, the service will operate Thursday to Sunday from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. City staff said the hours could be increased if needed at an cost of $17 per hour.
The goal is to take some of the pressure off the parking lots at the south end of Wilton Drive. “We will make riders aware of the lesser-used parking lots at NE 8th Terrace and at 2309 N. Dixie Highway and encourage them to park there and ride the shuttle at busy times rather than parking at City Hall or Richardson,” wrote Finance Director Bob Mays in his report to commissioners.
Commissioners also approved an employee parking permit program which consists of 12 spaces in the back of the Hagen Park lot, eight spaces at the Woman's Club, and five spaces at the Northeast 8 Terrace lot. There would be a monthly fee of $42 per permit and the spaces would be reserved for employees.
Mayor Gary Resnick suggested the city use “kid gloves” when the employee parking program starts. He wants others to have enough time to learn that the designated spots are for employees only. Mays said warnings will be issued and signage would be implemented.
The goal of the employee permits is to get employees to use those spaces and free up spaces on the street to be used by customers. By not having employees take up prime parking spaces for the entire length of their six to eight hour shifts, those spaces could be used more often by others.
Vice Mayor Justin Flippen said solving the parking problems along Wilton Drive would require a “multi-faceted” approach. “There’s no simple, one way to address parking in the city.”
Commissioner Tom Green said the city could also use the shuttle to help bring another form of public transportation to the city – one of the Tri-Rail stations planned along the FEC railway. Wilton Manors, along with Fort Lauderdale and Oakland Park, could be one of the cities that gets a commuter rail station. “We can put on our application that we have this service,” said Green.
The shuttle and the employee permits were two of the recommendations put forth by the parking study authored by Lanier Parking Solutions, the firm hired by the city to administer its parking program. But so far, the shuttle and permit programs are the only two suggestions approved by the commission.
Other recommendations included the construction of a garage at Hagen Park, re-establishing a valet service [which was unsuccessful previously], and an expansion of the payment in lieu of parking fee to include a monthly payment option. Currently, property owners and developers have to pay a one-time fee if they choose not to provide the required number of parking spaces.