New summer parking restrictions on St. Joe bluff

Starting this summer, the 101 spots along Lake Boulevard on St. Joe's bluff will be restricted to 2-hour parking.

According to our reporting partners at the Herald Palladium, city commissioners voted unanimously in favor of the change Monday night.

Until then, the spots allowed for free, all-day parking.

Many visitors would park their cars on the bluff and walk down to the beach, leaving few spots available for those who wanted to visit shops and businesses downtown.

Under the changes, visitors will only be able to park in Lake Boulevard spots for 2 hours at a time between Memorial Day and Labor Day.

"I think it will be nice to have people rotate out more," said Beachside Deli Manager Mary Jo Henretty-Jornales. "I'm hoping it will maybe have a positive impact on business."

So are many other business owners, who say some potential customers have chosen not to shop or eat downtown during the busy summer season because of the parking problems.

Residents who want to park all day and go to the beach can still use the free, all-day city lots downtown.

They can also pay to park at Silver Beach. The cost is $6 for Berrien County residents and $8 for non-residents.

"I think that if people can afford to have a vacation here on the beach, maybe they can budget an extra five bucks for parking," said St. Joe resident Robert A. Mousseau.

But, some worry the city's new restrictions on Lake Boulevard won't do much to solve the seasonal parking issues the small beach community's been facing for years.

"I have often thought two hours isn't long enough to explore downtown," said State Street Stuff Owner Cindy Barinholtz. "Maybe if they turn those into two-hour spaces, they could turn those on the downtown strip into three-hour spaces."

Others say even that isn't long enough; by eliminating 101 all-day parking spaces on Lake Boulevard, it will be even more difficult for those who live and work downtown to find a place to park for the day.

"Unless I leave really early, there probably won't be a spot," Henretty-Jornales said.

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