Clearwater considers parking valets for marina

- Within the next few weeks three new restaurants will open at the Clearwater Beach Marina. It will join other existing food establishments plus a handful of other shops in the marina’s main building.

They all share nearly 400 parking spaces, but it is not enough and marina employees may lose easy access to monthly parking permits.

"If we continue to go down the route...of allowing employees to park in there then yes, on any given day it could be more employees parked in there than there is availability for marina participants," said Clearwater parking systems manager Eric Wilson.       

Later Monday afternoon Wilson repeated his assessment to Clearwater's city council, where much of the discussion focused on valet parking. 

A substantial part of the parking lot will be reconfigured for valet parking, which packs cars in more closely. 

"We net gain probably more than 40 spaces by changing it around," Wilson said.

The owner of the three new restaurants has told city officials he will not make matters worse:  He intends to have the new employees park remotely and use trolleys or the ferry to get to work.       

"We definitely need something here as far as a garage dedicated primarily to just marina activities,” said local mariner, Capt. Mike Judge of the catamaran Kai Lani.

At Monday's city council workshop Clearwater City Manager, Bill Horne, said the moves are already being made to hire a parking consultant, the first step toward building a garage. 

The price of parking in existing spaces will also go up, although some councilmembers balked at the steep hikes Wilson proposed.  With the council's nod of approval work will now proceed on facilities needed for valet parking.

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