Thursday 11 August 2016:
A forensic investigation of car parking in the Merimbula central business district (CBD) paints a clear picture for the community and Council.
Based on the analysis done, Council calculated that the CBD requires 1,710 parking spaces.
Property owners have advised that they provide 1,209 spaces, requiring Council to provide at least a further 501 spaces.
Council can provide two types of public parking, on street parking and designated car parks.
In terms of designated car parks, Council provides 404 spaces across places like the Palmer and Alice Street car parks.
Reviewing timed and untimed on street parking, Council counted 822 spaces in the business zones of Merimbula.
The overall result is that Merimbula has a surplus of parking, 725 spaces beyond the regulatory requirement.
Council’s Director of Strategy and Business Services, Lucas Scarpin, provided a report to Council on Wednesday.
The study follows accusations over a number of years that Council had failed to meet its statutory obligation of providing the amount of parking spots stipulated for CBD developments and that the funds to do so had been misappropriated.
“Council strongly refuted these claims and this audited profile of parking requirements and supply confirms that it is time for the conversation to move on,” he said.
“Instead of asking who has or hasn’t paid for parking we should be asking why, if there is such a surplus, is it so difficult to find a parking space in Merimbula.”
Mr Scarpin said that while, theoretically, there was enough car parking spaces in Merimbula to cover both off peak and peak periods, the parking was quite dispersed around the CBD.
“It is foreseeable that a customer may have to drive around the CBD in order to identify a space that is vacant,” he said.
“Council is also investigating technologies to assist with identifying available parking quickly and efficiently through mobile aps.”
Mr Scarpin said that short term options for parking would be discussed with the Merimbula Chamber of Commerce on Friday.
“In relation to the longer term options Council has engaged SPIIRE to develop a CBD map of Merimbula, incorporating the Merimbula Bypass and Town Centre Masterplan.
“Once we have a high level structural CBD map we will look to work with the Commercial owners and the Chamber of Commerce to develop a long term parking plan for Merimbula.
“Council believes that by the community and Council working together, a practical solution can be found that provides benefits in the short, medium, and long term,” he said.