Boynton Beach: Parking fee eased in without much fuss

By Jane Smith and Willie Howard

    Boynton Harbor Marina customers are paying $5 for parking on Fridays through Sundays, after its Community Redevelopment Agency board nixed negotiations with a landowner to provide free parking.
    CRA staff was negotiating with the landowner of 114 N. Federal Highway. He wanted the parcel to be resurfaced and striped for $39,000, to have lighting brought up to code for $84,000 and to secure a general liability policy of $25 million for $256,000. The total estimated costs were $379,000, said Michael Simon, assistant CRA director, at the board’s March 10 meeting.
    That high cost, he said, made staff recommend against pursuing temporary parking there.
    “I’d say we drop it,” said Mayor Jerry Taylor, who is chairman of the CRA board. The motion passed 6-1.
    Marina customers were able to park in the Marina Village parking garage for free until Feb. 13. The association that  owns the garage instituted the charge as a way to gain control over the facility.
    The CRA gave each of its tenants a parking pass to use. The agency has 122 spaces on the lower floors of the garage for public parking. Rights to those spaces stem from CRA’s purchase of the fuel dock property along the Intracoastal Waterway from the Marina Village developers.
    Marina Village residents use the upper floors of the garage. A gate separates public parking spaces on the lower two floors from those reserved for condo residents.
    In December, the condo board voted to approve the parking fee to stop speeding cars and “undesirable activity” in the garage. The fee originally was supposed to go into effect in January for Thursdays through Sundays and last until June 14.
    Vivian Brooks, the CRA’s executive director, said she had not heard of any complaints. “We offered the grassy lot next to our building for parking, but no one is using it,” she said in mid-March. “The charge is only from Friday through Sundays, so perhaps that is OK.”
    Some charter boat captains who lease slips at the marina are angry, saying the added parking fee drives customers away, while others don’t hear much about it from their clients.
    “It appears that most folks are not using the garage if they have to pay,” said Geno Pratt of the Geno IV charter boat. “Our business is way down since this all went into effect.”
    Chris Agardy, captain of the Great Day, said he has heard no complaints from clients who pay $525 for a half day of fishing on his boat.
    He tells customers to use the valet parking available near Two Georges restaurant, which costs them the price of a tip. But he said most of his customers still park in the garage, partly because it’s close to the marina entrance and is available earlier in the morning than valet parking.
    Wendy Garnsey of the Sea Mist III drift boat, which costs $40 a half day, said a few of her regular customers have complained about the $5 parking fee. But many other customers have not mentioned the parking fee, she said.
    Boynton Boat Rentals owner Marcello Juchem said he hasn’t heard any complaints about the weekend parking fee from his customers.
    “I like it,” Juchem said of the $5 fee. “That way it’s only customers who are using the parking and not the people who work here. The public needs parking.”
    In other action, the CRA board voted unanimously to have staff negotiate with Brang Construction to install lighting on East Ocean Avenue. Its bid of $349,906.25 was over the amount of $265,393 budgeted for design and construction of the lighting. About $40,000 was spent for the designing and permitting of the project.

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