Officials debate new parking garage at Clam Pass in Naples

A plan to ease parking problems at a popular Southwest Florida beach is stirring up controversy.

Right now, the lot has over 170 parking spots, but the county says that’s not enough. They want to build a three-story parking garage to make sure beach-goers always have a spot, but some people say that would mess with the natural beauty of the place.

Russ Masterson rides his bicycle through the half-empty parking lot at Clam Pass, hoping officials don’t pave it and put in a parking garage.

“They just expanded this one. They never filled it except maybe three or four days all year long and now they’re going to put in 300 more places?” Masterson said.

The county says that every year, over 150,000 people visit. Right now, only 171 parking spots exist. Officials say the garage could add 300 more.

Some people think it would make parking a lot easier, but others disagree.

“I wouldn’t be very happy about it. It takes away from it I think. So many more people will be here, it will be crowded and I just wouldn’t like it,” said Naples resident Kevin Gerber.

Officials say the multi-million dollar project would look similar to the parking garage for Vanderbilt Beach.

Residents to the area like Masterson say it’s a waste of taxpayer money.

“The point is they’re spending millions of dollars to build something they don’t need. There’s no need for it,” Masterson added.

Commissioners delayed the vote on this project until April. It could cost up to $10 million.