Madeira Beach residents worry new dinner cruise in John's Pass will snarl traffic

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Residents and businesses in John’s Pass are upset, worried a new dinner cruise attraction will increase traffic in an already congested parking garage after the city approved the company's license to operate despite not adding any new parking spaces.

Residents and businesses say at times lines of cars can be seen stretching down Gulf Boulevard and now a new 150-passenger dinner cruise is opening, but no new parking spaces have been added, leaving many worried of the impact

Residents now raising concern over a boat docked at John’s Pass. Some say it’s an eyesore.

“Bright neon pink and yellow with fake palm trees on top," resident Doc Jon. "It reminds me of someone having a nice manicured lawn with plastic pink flamingos in it.” 

The Calypso Breeze is set to open for business in a few weeks, offering people the chance to dine on the water. The experience is taking place in one of the busiest areas of Madeira Beach, John's Pass

“If an emergency vehicle had to get through, it wouldn’t be able to get through," Madeira Beach City Commissioner Nancy Hodges said. "So to me I think it’s important to think of the safety of all the tourist to come here.”

Commissioner Nancy Hodges, voting no, on Starlight Cruises liquor license, which passed in a 4 to 1 vote back in July.

Photos taken by a business owner show cars lining the street. Hodges says the city is already working on fixing the parking issue, saying the cruise would only make it worse. 

"There was casino boats here years ago, but since then business has doubled and triple here,' Kilwin's Ice Cream Shop owner Larry Butterfield said. "We have lines going out so I really don’t think right now is a good time for them to be here because of the parking issue.”

The majority of people coming to John’s Pass park in a 323 space parking garage. The city assigned 18 spaces to Starlite Cruises for their 150 potential customers. 

“We are going to take up more parking spaces but when you go with an average of three people per car if everyone did driver their own car," Starlite Cruises President Phil Henderson said. "You’re only talking about 50 spaces.” 

The company says it will strongly encourage its future customers to use riding sharing services like Uber and Lyft to decrease traffic congestion. They say they’ll start offering Cruises in the next few weeks.