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St. Pete to host final public workshop on downtown parking

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

St. Pete residents fed up with downtown parking will get a chance to weigh in on the issue this Wednesday at a public workshop at the Museum of Fine Arts on Beach Drive. The meeting unveiling the city’s draft parking study begins at 6:15 p.m. and is expected to run until 8:00.

The study introduces preliminary results looking at existing and future parking conditions throughout downtown. Officials will give members of the community an opportunity to ask questions and provide feedback on the study.

The study looked at both existing parking spaces available and demand in areas of downtown between Fifth Avenues North and South from Tampa Bay West to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Street. It also included the Edge District near Tropicana Field.

Two public meetings were previously held in July as well as a series of online opinion surveys over the summer.

The city hopes the study will lead to a plan to meet current and future parking needs. The study is expected to identify possible alternatives to common issues like parking regulation modifications, additional parking and managing existing resources.

Those planning to attend the final public meeting on the issue can park for free in the Sundial Parking Garage on Second Street North across from the Sundial shopping plaza. People choosing to park in the garage need to bring their parking stub to the meeting to get it validated.

The city is already taking steps to combat parking issues in downtown. Last month the city launched the weekend “Park Once” program that allows visitors to park in a parking garage and then take a free shuttle to their destinations.

The Kriseman administration is also pushing to implement a bike share program he hopes would encourage people to either ditch their cars while visiting downtown or park remotely and get around on a bike.

And Monday the Florida Department of Transportation announced a $500,000 grant to implement Central Avenue Bus Rapid Transit. The project is expected to take about two years. Once it’s implemented visitors from the beach can quickly and efficiently travel from the Gulf to the Bay on public transit in about 30-40 minutes. Today that same trip takes an hour and a half.

Mayor Rick Kriseman attended a news conference announcing the grant and celebrated the move as a way to make downtown a more walkable community.

Janelle Irwin has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. She also hosts a weekly political talk show on WMNF Community radio. Janelle formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for Patch.com and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a diehard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and the ongoing Pier debacle. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also the devoted mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder. To contact, email janelle@floridapolitics.com.

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