Mario Schoenfelder, who leases the Anna Maria City Pier and Restaurant from the city, has a solution for his parking shortage.
Schoenfelder has proposed to install a gate and charge for parking in the north pier parking lot.
He proposes that people who visit the pier restaurant or bait shop get the ticket validated and pay nothing. Those who park in the lot, but visit other shops and not the pier, would have to pay when they depart the lot.
The lease includes designated parking spaces in the pier parking lot, but Schoenfelder said enforcement is a difficult issue.
He’s said he’s willing to cover the cost of establishing a ticketed parking system if it ensures his customers can find parking in the lot.
After city commissioners at their July 19 meeting agreed to close public parking at the vacant lots it owns at the east end of Pine Avenue, Schoenfelder sent his proposed solution to commissioners and Mayor Mike Selby.
He’s asking the commission to determine if he is allowed to install parking limits under the terms of his lease.
Commissioners have previously agreed Schoenfelder is entitled to parking, and a sign at the north pier parking lot says parking is limited to pier customers.
Schoenfelder said his parking problems began in earnest after the city “created a temporary beach” next to the city pier earlier this year. It should have been the city’s responsibility to control parking for beachgoers, he claimed.
Now, he said, he has a “huge parking problem” because people are parking and using the beach, not the pier.
And he doesn’t think the city is helping him find a credible parking solution.
The lease is a “partnership” between the city and the tenant, he said, and “both parties help each other to reach mutual goals. Unfortunately, I am sometimes missing that kind of spirit in the thinking and actions on the part of the city.”
Schoenfelder also said the city has an “obligation to support the tenant’s efforts to run a successful business and customer parking is an essential part of that.”
His company pays the city for its use of the pier and parking spaces for its customers, and he sees “an obligation” on the part of the city to make parking available for his customers.
The city has the power to write parking regulations and designate parking spaces, he said, while the city pier restaurant does not have the same right. Decisions made by the commission are affecting his business, Schoenfelder said, but he is limited in finding solutions.
He believes paid parking is his only option.
“This is a formal application to allow us under the lease to install a gated parking system. If it turns out we do not need the city’s approval to install (the system), please, let me know. I will immediately start the implementation of such a system,” he said.
Calls to Selby or Commission Chair Chuck Webb for comment on the parking request were unanswered by presstime for The Islander.