The day the kiosks died.
It's been some time since the dreaded parking kiosks were yanked off of Bay Street, but horns still exist for the paid-parking debate beast.
As proof of that, Mayor Billy Keyserling posted a copy of an e-mail he received from one visitor who doesn't, "understand how you can promote tourism for your downtown area and not provide free public parking. This is nothing but a money grab run by a private company for the city."
Keyserling also posted a copy of his reply.
I've excerpted the meat of the exchange and a link is below to read the e-mails in full.
Full e-mail from "John D Cespedes":
Visited your city last Tuesday and received a parking ticket for an expired meter. My fault. I don't understand how you can promote tourism for your downtown area and not provide free public parking. This is nothing but a money grab run by a private company for the city. Talking with some of the business owners they are not happy with the situation. I'll never visit your city again and will spread the news.
Keyserling's response, in part:
I am glad you had an opportunity to visit beautiful Beaufort and am sorry our value proposition of fine shops, excellent restaurants, our world class waterfront park, the open vistas throughout our city, the ancient moss draped oaks and history whichever way you turn, is not worth giving up a little something.
... Parking revenues are invested directly into downtown improvements... Fees do not go into the City operations budget.
The reason Beaufort has had paid parking since the 1930's is because the merchants asked for it. Unfortunately, it takes parking fees and fines to prevent all day parking by some downtown merchants and their employees who, up until we started the current system, were dominating parking thereby making it nearly impossible for locals and visitors to find spaces.
The good news, for the merchants, residents and visitors, is that we can now find spaces to park in the greater downtown area. ...
The City's Civic Investment Plan calls for a parking deck, with perhaps lower or no fees. But, a $5 million plus investment out of a $14 million annual budget for a city of only 12,000 moderate to low income people, half of whom rent, is not likely in the foreseeable future when the private sector engages as a partner in this lofty ideal.
For more insite into the parking debate and business owners' mindset, check out this piece from early this year.