SARASOTA (WWSB) - The new St. Armands parking garage was not only packed with cars Monday morning, but dozens of Sarasota city leaders and residents who were there for one thing…to celebrate this new addition to the area.
“We’re not only trying to bring the city’s idea of improving parking capacity but to the neighborhoods,” said Mark Lyons, city parking manager.
The garage is located on N. Adams Circle, and has more than 500 parking spots. It costs 50 cents the hour. It opened to the public back in February. City officials say since, it’s making it easier for visitors.
“It just turned out to be really nice,” he said.
However, not many feel the same. Last week, Sarasota mayor Liz Alpert received a Facebook message that reads in part :
“Parking payment confusing and not prominent enough to be noticed. Spaces unmarked making it difficult to know which space is being paid for.”
This was forwarded to the parking department. They say they’ve researched and asked locals and came to this conclusion:
“The machine that we have out here today was picked 80% of the time by the people that we surveyed,” said Lyons.
Some local business owners say the garage is helping boost business in certain areas of the circle. In other ends, they say their customers are more worried about not getting a ticket than enjoying their shopping experience.
“They won’t shop, they say they can’t come back because they don’t want to get a ticket,” said Barbara Pugliese, owner of “Just/Because.”
The city says they’ve provided different alternatives of payments, including an app. Some business owners say not all their customers use it.
“Not everyone wants to do that. Our demographic doesn’t use the app to the extent that they should,” said Pugliese.
According to the parking department, they made some changes to make metered payments easier. They say if there’s a need in the future, they’ll continue to refine it.