beach parking (copy)

Visitors unpack in Massengale Park for a day at the beach.

A beach parking fee for visitors only could raise over $300,000 a year, a local Glynn County government committee found.

A $1-an-hour parking fee at the old Coast Guard station and Massengale Park could generate $312,000 and $321,000 in annual revenue, said revenue study committee member Paul Schofield at the group’s meeting Wednesday.

The calculation was based on several estimates rooted in data provided by the Golden Isles Convention and Visitors Bureau and excluded Glynn County residents.

A 2014 study done during the months of June-September by the CVB found as many as 77.5 percent of cars parked at the Coast Guard beach access and 81.5 percent parked at Massengale Park sported non-Glynn tags, Schofield said.

The study also took into account lower tourist traffic in the spring, fall and winter seasons.

The committee heard several estimates of the capacity at each parking area from local organizations, he said, but decided to go with a conservative estimate of 250 parking capacity at Coast Guard and 100 at Massengale.

“We ultimately decided that each space could likely produce $10 per day in revenue,” he explained Wednesday morning. “You can get at that several ways. You can do $1 an hour and have people pay for 10 hours or you can potentially have a higher rate such as $2 an hour and cap it at $10 a day.”

He said the percentage of tourists and projected revenue might actually be higher than anticipated, as tourist and visitor traffic went up by 19 percent between 2014 and 2019, while the number of residents increased by 3.8 percent in the same time frame.

He left estimates of the upfront cost for implementing the fee and enforcement up to the county government. Any new fee would have to be accompanied by new laws to keep tourists from evading the charge, which he also left up to the county commission.

Schofield didn’t have as many concrete figures on parking fines, but said most other coastal communities in the area get 8 percent to 25 percent of parking revenue from fines.

Glynn County Commissioner David O’Quinn requested a study of parking fees earlier this year out of a desire to buy better lifeguard equipment and pay for beach safety initiatives, Schofield said.

“As everybody knows, Gould’s Inlet has become more dangerous after the two hurricanes came through,” Schofield said. “The lifeguards aren’t able to currently patrol that. They don’t have the equipment, walkie-talkies that will reach down there, and one of the impetuses for this was with all the rescues and unfortunately, some of the fatalities that have happened.”

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