Gilchrist Park parking lot removal grows on some, change wanted by others

Parking headaches grow and people who visit Gilchrist Park in Punta Gorda say they can’t find parking because of renovations.

The new park came with new rules – no more parking on the grass.

One man is pleading with the city to allow people to park on the grass like they had always been able to do before.

But freshly laid grass, a brand new pavilion, parking lot and on-street parking, are all part of the city of Punta Gorda’s multi-million dollar park upgrade.

It’s that change that made Phil Wilson put up a marquee sign outside of his business, asking city council to allow people to park on the grass.

“We’ve parked in the grass for years, and years and year and years and now all of a sudden the grass is more important to people’s access to the park,” Wilson said.

He says the lack of parking is driving people away, especially on the nights when there’s live music at the park, “Tuesday or Thursday nights there were probably 200-250 people down there between the people listening to the music and playing music. I was down there Tuesday night and there was maybe there was 30-40 people.”

The city says the change is to maximize the green space and that walking an extra block or two is part of the park experience.

Others, however, tell WINK News parking isn’t a problem for them.

“Either way is fine with me. I just like the park. I think it’s beautiful,” said Donna Regner of Punta Gorda.

But Wilson says not being able to park on the grass isn’t just an inconvenience, it’s a hardship for some.

“The elderly people can’t walk that far to get there, especially if they’re on a walker or they’re on a cane or in a wheelchair.”

Despite the sign or complaints, the city is sticking with their decision to not allow people to park on the grass.

Reporter:Kristi Gross