Melinda Lee / WINK

Fort Myers Beach parking rate hike imminent

FORT MYERS BEACH, Fla. A day at the beach is about to get more expensive.

The cost of parking will increase from $2 to $3 an hour in the next couple of days, once crews finish updating parking meters, Town Manager Roger Hernstadt said. Meters already reflect the new price at 14 public accesses.

The change won’t affect parking by the pier at Lynn Hall Park, which is a Lee County facility.

Town Council approved the increase Sept. 21 along with the budget for the 2018 fiscal year.

“After a while, that adds up,” beachgoer Justin Peterson said. “Dinner, movies, things like that. It builds up and that kind of takes a toll on us.”

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Hernstadt calls the increase minimal and said the alternative would be to raise taxes. Bill Freeman, owner of the Smokin’ Oyster Brewery on Old San Carlos Boulevard, would prefer a tax hike.

Freeman argues the parking fees have a chilling effect on business.

“We’re a tourist-driven economy,” he said. “… It just sends the wrong message to tourists that come here.”

Charlotte County beaches require only 75 cents an hour for parking. It’s $2.50 an hour to park at Naples beaches and $8 an hour at beaches in unincorporated Collier County.

“It just kind of sucks because going to the beach is supposed to be something that’s cheap and a good time for relatively nothing,” Peterson said.

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Reporter:Melinda Lee
Writer:Chuck Myron
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