Motorists who park along a popular stretch of the Nelson Bay foreshore during the work week can now keep their coins instead of feeding them to a meter – at least until December.
In a bid to ease congestion and create more short-term parking spaces in the Nelson Bay CBD, on-street parking along Victoria Parade has been made fee free on weekdays until December 27.
Signposted time limits will also not apply.
It comes into effect fourth months after Port Stephens Mayor Ryan Palmer’s notice of motion, made to the June 26 council meeting, to make parking along the waterfront free and untimed in off-peak periods was carried.
It is hoped that the measure will encourage Bay business owners and their staff to park in Victoria Parade instead of in the streets outside shops and the limited parking spaces within the town centre.
“For 48 weeks of the year you could fire a gun down Victoria Parade and not hit anyone,” Cr Palmer said at the June 26 council meeting.
“There’s a commitment from the [Tomaree] business chamber to work with the businesses to encourage them to park there and with anything like this there is an education period.”
Free parking in Victoria Parade is one of the council’s measures in addressing the Bay’s long-standing issue of not having enough parking spaces, particularly in peak holiday periods.
The council is now investigating the feasibility of building a multi-storey car park, incorporating commercial development, within the Nelson Bay CBD after Crs Palmer, John Nell, Glen Dunkley, Sarah Smith and Jaimie Abbott submitted a notice of motion at the June 26 meeting to do so.
The car parking situation was worsened in November 2014 when the council was forced to close the upper two levels of its multi-storey car park, taking away 114 car parks, in Donald Street due to structural damage.
The council created two new ground level car parks, on the corner of Yacaaba and Donald streets and on Government Road between Stockton and Church streets, totalling 125 spaces.
However, the Donald and Yacaaba Street car park, which Port Stephens Council was renting, will close in the near future after the land was sold earlier in 2018 and a developer lodged plans to to build a 10-storey apartment complex on the site.
Motorists who park along Victoria Parade will be required to pay and abide by the signposted time limits on weekends and public holidays.
Free and untimed parking will not apply between December 27 and January 26.
Port Stephens Council said parking meters along the Nelson Bay foreshore were installed to help promote vehicular turnover and to raise income to fund CBD maintenance and additional foreshore infrastructure.
In 2016-2017 the parking meters generated $490,000 in income for the council. The predicted income for 2017-2018 is $600,000.
The council expects to lose $30- to $40,000 in parking revenue by making it free to park along Victoria Parade during the weekdays.