New valet service at Clearwater Beach Marina has business owners in uproar

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CLEARWATER BEACH, Fla. (WFLA) – Parking has become an issue at the Clearwater Beach Marina. Business owners feel there aren’t enough spaces to go around because of a new valet service the city is trying out.

There’s 358 spaces. With the new Cantina restaurant and dozens of charters and businesses, there’s not enough room for customers, employees and tenants, the business owners say.

Some business owners said they’re not profiting since the implementation of the valet service last month. “This is a disaster. What’s going on? The valet parking is a nightmare. They took 150 spots from everybody. They clog up the circle which is built to keep traffic going,” Captain Tom Sprague said.

His charter, Dos Amigos, has been at the marina for 24 years. He said the parking fiasco started when the new Cantina restaurant opened. He said with limited spaces and new parking fees, his charters were cut in half last month.

Valet prices run between $6 to $36, with a validated ticket. A $50 fee will be tacked on for tickets not validated by a marina business.

Self-parking prices have doubled. New prices run between $6 to $12.

“When that restaurant was going up, they should have built a three-tier parking garage with it. You got to figure it out. I mean, I’m not a rocket scientist, but when you’re putting all these extra cars in here, you have to make more parking,” Sprague said.

City leaders said parking changes were made to accommodate growth at the marina. Previously, people that would come for dinner cruises wouldn’t be able to find a parking space or would have to travel around for an hour to find a parking space,” Eric Wilson with Clearwater Parking Systems said.

Officials also said this will benefit people who want to do Marina activities. It will also deter beach-goers from taking up spots, the said.

The valet service is being tested for 90 days. Wilson said they’ll readjust if they have too.

“Is the valet something that’s profitable, that’s going to work for the businesses? And if so, do we need to do a redesign of the parking lot and if that redesign is constituted, then we would redesign?” he explained.

This could eventually include a parking garage.

City leaders said parking at the Marina is a choice – and pointed out there are other options. Parking on the mainland and taking the ferry is one option. Also, people can park at hotel garages for a fee.

A new parking garage being constructed on Poinsettia Avenue is expected to open this year. It will have 700 spaces, which 450 will be for public use.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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