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Council suggests paying for Beach parking to increase security

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Updated: 8/28/2013 11:47 pm
JACKSONVILLE BEACH Fla.-- To pay or not to pay for parking; that's the hot button question that's got Jacksonville Beach City Council talking.

Wednesday they discussed placing pay and display muni meters on Jacksonville Beach streets where parking has been free for decades.

They also suggested adding automated pay gates in public lots.

Mayor Charlie Latham says that money would pay for added security in the central business district.

"What's more important to you; walking down the street holding your kids hands and having a nice dinner without the fear of the ruffians or the bad actors impacting your ability to have a nice time?"

Police Chief Pat Dooley agrees. He says paid parking is the way to go.

"Anytime we can use the revenue that's generated by paid parking to help us augment additional police officers and security officers in that downtown area that's definitely beneficial for us," he said.

But not everyone is convinced. Local business owner and city council member Tom Taylor says forcing people to pay more for parking will drive visitors away from the beaches.

"I want to keep free parking and I think we need to come up with a plan," said Taylor.

The Mayor went on to say that under his prospective plan, beach residents would also have to pay for parking.

The mayor said he doesn't want to raise taxes for beach residents and paid parking is a way to keep taxes from rising.

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