The Oak Island Town Council met for a special meeting to discuss parking on Thursday night.
Representatives from Lanier Parking Solutions spoke before the council, explaining the concept of ‘pay for parking' and how it could work in Oak Island.
The representatives said that forcing visitors to pay for parking would reduce or maintain the property tax level for residents, provide beach nourishment funding for Oak Island, and create a safer environment for visitors.
The council was not completely sold on the idea. Some members were concerned about how some areas of the beach would be labeled or marked for parking. They also questioned which parts of the island would require ‘pay for parking'.
Oak Island Mayor Betty Wallace said she likes the idea of making parking violations an administrative issue and not one that police must enforce.
In an interview after the meeting, the mayor said the 'pay for parking' funds are becoming necessary for beach nourishment.
"It's at a break point. It's at that point where we've got to do something because of the cost and the wear and tear on the town streets- the wear and tear on our beach. We need help," Wallace said.
The mayor said the parking fees would provide a positive benefit the entire island and it's visitors.
"The reason we're doing this is to increase the enjoyment of all of our visitors and the day-trippers when they come to Oak Island and enjoy their beach. It's not fair to expect only the property owners and the residents to pay for all that," elaborated Wallace.
Lanier Parking Solutions currently runs 'pay for parking' operations in Wilmington, Wrightsville Beach, and Myrtle Beach.
The council members agreed that they would travel to Wilmington or Wrightsville Beach to examine Lanier's parking operations.
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