Dunedin's downtown paid parking still a major issue for some shoppers and business owners

City holding meeting Thursday to discuss parking

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- A Pinellas County hot spot is still dealing with parking problems. If you want to park your car in downtown Dunedin it will cost you money and time.

Many shoppers and business owners say the parking should be free.

"I’ve had customers come in and go oh I only have seven minutes to shop," said Jane Sweeney, owner of MJ Fashions & Gifts, "I know you can power shopping but that’s not what we’re all about."

Sweeney says paid parking peaked her interest last year, but now she is over it and says customers are too.

"They don’t want to have to go stand out a machine in the hot sun trying to figure out what’s going on," said Sweeney. "I tell them to download the app and they go oh yeah maybe I should." 

"What I have to do is I have to get an eight-year-old to teach me how to do it," joked Bob Kerr, who admits he doesn't use the app. 

Kerr is part of the 77% of people that do not use the app according to data Dunedin officials plan on sharing Thursday evening at a public meeting.

The data shows paid parking is raking in nearly $400,000 for the city and is encouraging higher turnover among shoppers.

You would think a higher number of different customers on the city streets and in businesses would be a good thing. Not necessarily.

Sweeney says her bottom line is suffering. Her revenues are down 17% over 2016.

"They can have all the parking they can come up with in the world but if they put me out of business then what are the customers coming down for?" said Sweeney.

The data says free parking isn't "free" and maintenance falls on taxpayers if the users are not paying for it. The city found many businesses are on board with the new system because parking spots are being used more by potential customers instead of people using the Pinellas Trail all day or workers as their employee parking spot.

Kerr says he is riding his bike more, a plus for his health, but believes paid parking is not a good fit and hopes the city does away with it.

The meeting to discuss parking issue starts at 6:00 p.m. at the Hale Activity Center at 3301 Douglas Avenue. It is open to the public.

City officials really want folks to come out and express their paid parking concerns so they can figure out what is working and what is not.

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