LAKE WORTH BEACH - Facing a if-they-build-it-will-they-come question, the city is mulling building a parking garage among other ways to create more downtown parking.
But that would come at a cost and not all are on board with the premise.
Commissioner Herman Robinson said he has heard complaints from businesses about the lack of parking, but constructing a garage might be out of the city’s price range.
Robinson said it would cost about $20,000 per space and if it was built, it would need to accompany some kind of development.
"I’m more interested in housing, he said.
Still, the scarcity of spots is an issue that leaders agree needs to be addressed.
Angelo Romano recalls a night when the valets of his restaurant - Paradiso Ristorante - fought with the valets at Rustico Italiano for coveted spots on a side streets near the Italian restaurants.
"If we are hoping that the town has a brighter future, if we’re going to get busier, parking is going to be a big issue," he said.
Romano said parking is fine during the spring and summer, but during peak season, sometimes guests may wait 15 to 20 minutes for a car.
Parking should be a bigger issue to the city, Romano said.
Robinson agreed, adding that the Lake Worth Playhouse might not have enough convenient spots for its productions of Gypsy and Sister Act.
The commissioner said hopes some sort of parking authority can monitor the downtown situation.
"We haven’t had enough of a conversation before," he said.
Locals don’t really have an issue parking, he added, because they walk downtown or know the best places to park.
Parking savvy residents know they can drive down Lake Ave., slide into a spot right in front of the Book Cellar and park there for free. Because of that, there isn’t much support for parking meters, Robinson said even though they would bring in revenue.
Visitors, however, have a hard time finding spots.
The possibility of building a garage will be one of the items discussed in Monday night’s City Commission workshop, city manager Micheal Bornstein said.
Downtown meters would be necessary to make a lot or garage work, said Ramsay Stevens, a resident of Lake Worth Beach. They would make the garage profitable.
After all, if the spots are free, "why would you use the garage when you can walk five minutes down the road to park for free?"