Free parking on the Isle of Palms could be changing

ISLE OF PALMS, SC (WCSC) - Thousands of people visit the Isle of Palms on a daily basis during the summer months. And those who do – know that finding a parking space is almost like finding gold. The free parking, however, along some of the main roadways could be switching to spots you have to pay for.

Members of the Isle of Palms Ways and Means Committee are meeting on Tuesday evening. One of the items up for discussion is making an amendment to managed beach parking, such as requiring payment to park on Palm Boulevard.

"The paid parking, if we decide to go this way, is going to be strictly on Palm Boulevard and on the avenues," Isle of Palms Mayor, Jimmy Carroll, said.

Carroll made sure to stress members of the committee will only be discussing possible changes.

"Tonight is just talks," Carroll said. "There are not going to be any decisions made. It's just the beginning."

Carroll said parking has been talked about for more than a decade on the Isle of Palms. Two years ago is when council initiated a parking plan that allowed people to park along Palm Boulevard and certain avenues for free. But in recent weeks, during public forums, Carroll said residents stressed the need for a change to the parking system.

"We are public servants," Carroll said. "The residents elect us to represent them. And they have demanded that we do something to make their lifestyles better on Isle of Palms."

Carroll said there are 56 beach accesses along Isle of Palms and more than 1,500 parking spots.

"Those parking spots are filled," Carroll said. "The Charleston parks are filled. People will line up waiting for a spot to open up and the traffic backs up. Our police are having to work overtime. Charleston County does come out here and give us help but it's not enough."

Carroll added the trash that accumulates, because of the additional people, is a problem as well.

"Our cans are overfilling every day, if not every two days," Carroll said. "It's costing us, the residents of Isle of Palms."

And incurring those additional costs, from the people coming to the Isle of Palms just for the day, is why the council will be talking about ways to offset the costs, Carroll said.

"I would love to see us do the paid parking," Carroll said. "I would also love to see us, in the offseason, make our city lots along Front Street free. And push them down towards our commercial districts."

Carroll said there are several ideas being tossed around.

"I'd hate to see meters go all up and down Isle of Palms," Carroll said. "To me, that's almost like pollution in its own way. If we went to a kiosk system or if we went to a system where you can go online and register your car – I think those would be wonderful options."

Carroll said this is going to be an entire council decision, though, not just his.

Nothing will be decided Tuesday night, the topic is just going to be discussed.

The Ways and Means Committee will meet at 5 p.m.

Copyright 2018 WCSC. All rights reserved.