Sullivan's Island looking to limit roadside visitor parking, similar to IOP

Published: May. 14, 2016 at 3:40 AM EDT|Updated: Jul. 31, 2016 at 2:23 PM EDT
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SULLIVAN'S ISLAND, SC (WCSC) - Local beach officials are finding ways to manage the traffic and safety issues that come with it.

Isle of Palms is limiting visitor parking starting Sunday and now Sullivan's Island has a plan of its own to do the same.

Sullivan's Island officials submitted a plan to SCDOT to consider limiting parking to one side of the street. Town staff is looking to make it easier for emergency vehicles to navigate. They say there's a beach emergency almost everyday and the priority for changing the parking rules is public safety.

For visitors, finding a parking space on the island isn't always easy, and they don't want to see any taken away.

Lorraine and Larry Stoltzfus say when they come to the island they try to arrive early to avoid parking issues.

"We found a spot it was relatively close but as soon as we got turned around it was gone,"  Larry said.

Eulisa Thomas says it took her a while to find a park near the restaurants before rush hour.

"I think the parking situation is a little bit inconvenient," Thomas said.

John Jeffries has lived on the Island for 30 years and he supports the plan.

"I want as many people to enjoy the beach as possible, but it gets to be almost a hazard having so many people trying to leave the island at the same time at five or six o' clock you can't get on on off the island," Jeffries said.

While many Island residents are in favor of limited parking, resident Bill Connelly has a different view.

"I don't like it all, I think that people have a right to be at the beach and since we're fortunate enough to live here there should be parking spaces for people to visit to the beach," Connelly said.

With the new rules that limit visitor parking on the Isle of Palm, the town of Sullivan's Island is expecting more people to flock to its beach that will increase the need for safety.

Right now, there are about 4,500 spaces available. That number would drop to about 2.800 if the current plan is approved. Town officials say the reduced number of parking spaces will meet the current demands of visitors.

"That would definitely deter a lot of business if people weren't able to park," Thomas said.

Thomas said she would be less likely to visit the area if the parking becomes reduced.

"I hesitate to come out in the summer to begin with because of the parking," Lorraine said.  "I feel bad for the restaurants because I know it's not helping them when people know they have to hassle with finding a space."

The town is also considering an ordinance that would require parked cars to have all wheels off the pavement.

"We want everyone to have fun and enjoy it but make it safe for everyone else," Jeffries said.

If SCDOT approves the plan, town council is expected to implement the new parking plan in June. Town officials say it will be a trial period for the first year and they'll look to make adjustments if needed in the future.

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