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Indian Shores plans parking fees for new county park

Visiting Indian Shores' beaches won't be free for many people anymore. If the Town Council approves, beachgoers will be asked to shell out money for parking at Pinellas County's new park, formerly known as Tiki Gardens.

Mayor Robert McEwen hopes the county will be able to incorporate a parking-machine system into its plans for the park.

Revenues would be split with the county. It would be the first paid public parking lot in town.

"This is the first sizable area that's been available to us," McEwen said. "Having heard the stories of St. Petersburg Beach and Madeira Beach and Clearwater on the amount of revenue these bring in, it was a very obvious decision."

McEwen met Wednesday with representatives of the county Park Board, which is planning the new park. The representatives swapped ideas on the park with McEwen.

Pinellas County purchased the aging tourist attraction for $3-million last summer. The building has been demolished, and the property has been fenced off.

The county still is at least a year away from developing the park, so for now the county is concentrating on interim parking at the site, said Fred S. McLean, director of the county Park Department.

Plans call for revamping an existing parking lot to designate 78 parking spaces, he said. He hopes they will be marked off in the next six months.

McEwen said he would like to see a new parking system be installed at about the same time.

"We would recommend that we put it in as soon as temporary measure (parking) is numbered and striped," McEwen said. "Of course, in a political sense, the people who park here are not residents or longtime visitors....I hope we will keep the prices reasonable so we aren't hurting anyone."

The council is considering a system called Park Master IV. It consists of one machine into which patrons deposit money in exchange for a certain amount of time at a parking space. A ticket is dispensed to the customer.

One machine will cost about $9,800 compared with $15,000 for 78 parking meters, McEwen said.

The machine could be paid for from reserve funds, McEwen said.

Among the possible features of the park are nature walks, boardwalks, bathroom and shower facilities.

Construction is expected to begin after October 1991, McLean said.

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