WRIGHTSVILLE BEACH, NC (WECT) – It's not beach season quite yet, but when the weather does finally warm up, it could cost more to visit the ocean this year.
Each year, Wrightsville Beach collects hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue from parking. But town leaders are considering a hike in those fees.
Changes include raising the hourly rate from $2.00 per hour to either $2.25 or $2.50 per hour.
The daily rate could also change from $12 per day to either $13 or $14 per day.
Enforcement hours can also change as well. At this point, the town enforces payment on all parking spaces between the hours of 9 a.m. - 6 p.m. Now, they're considering extending those hours of enforcement from 8 a.m. - 8 p.m.
Town Manager Tim Owens explained the money generated from parking goes to pay for town services offered to the public.
"It pays for our parking problem, pays to clean bathrooms, keep police officers on the streets, that kind of thing," said Owens.
Owens said the Board of Alderman is also considering approximately 25-30 new parking spaces throughout town. Town leaders are also thinking about raising the price of yearly commercial passes from $290 to $500 per year.
Some business owners, including John Andrews, aren't happy about the proposed changes. Andrews has been the owner of South Beach Grille on Lumina Ave. for 17 years and is worried how the proposed changes could impact the future of his business.
"Parking always has been and always will be an issue on Wrightsville Beach," said Andrews. "I just don't understand why the (parking rules) have to be extended to create this hardship on business and locals."
Andrews says these changes would compound problems that his business has faced recently due to the ongoing DOT work on the Wrightsville Beach drawbridge.
"All the restaurants and all the hotels -- we felt that bridge work for the last year and frankly, we're ready to move on," said Andrews. "But now to face another imposition to our success, it's frustrating."
Town leaders will host a public hearing to gather input from citizens March 19. If approved, the changes could start as early as this year.
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