ADA Compliance
The City of St. Augustine remains committed to providing accessibility to all and provides for handicapped accessible parking in the city. For a map of accessible parking locations, Click Here To notify the city regarding accessibility concerns contact: Will Franke, Building Official, Phn: 904.825.1065, Fax: 904.209.4335, Email: wfranke@citystaug.com; or Todd Grant, Public Works Deputy Director, Phn: 904.825.1040, Fax: 904.209.4286, Email: tgrant@citystaug.com. You may also write either of these contacts at City of St. Augustine, P.O. Box 210, St. Augustine, FL 32085-0210.

Consumer Confidence Report
The City of St. Augustine remains committed to providing clean and safe drinking water. For the previous year's sampling results please click here. To notify the city regarding water treatment concerns contact: Patrick Timoney, Water Treatment Plant Supervisor, Phn: 904.825.1044, Fax: 904.823-2280, Email: ptimoney@citystaug.com; or woperators@citystaug.com, or write the City of St. Augustine, P.O. Box 210, St. Augustine, FL 32085-0210.

Lightner Parking Facility

The City of St. Augustine recently published a project newsletter regarding the Lightner Parking Facility. The newsletter contains numerous illustrations and a location map. To view the newsletter click here.

The text of the newsletter follows here.

The Vision
Almost ten years ago the community developed a vision for the future that, among many other things, called for a pedestrian friendly environment and a City that manages its traffic and parking to balance the needs of residents, visitors and businesses.

Creating several parking garages that blend in with their surroundings was determined to be an essential part of fulfilling that vision.

In 1999, the City Commission requested that a team of professionals, funded in part by the Florida Department of Transportation, develop the Parking, Circulation and Transit Plan. It recommended the City construct three parking garages that will be linked together with a rubber-wheeled transit vehicle. The first facility will be directly behind the Lightner Museum.

The Challenge
St. Augustine is a national historic treasure and those who live in the City have a duty to protect and preserve not only its buildings, but its way of life.

No one will deny that the automobile is a part of the way of life in St. Augustine and has been for the last century, and not just for visitors, but for residents who live in the City or who come downtown to get a haircut, take care of banking, have lunch or visit friends.

The City’s challenge is to develop a plan that meets the demands created by the automobile while preserving the historic integrity of the Nation’s Oldest City.

Meeting the needs of this most livable of cities is what the Lightner Parking Facility is all about.

The Location
The reason this is the logical initial site for the first parking facility is that there is a need, right now, and year round. Many of the 347 spaces will be used by tenants of the Lightner Building, including four agencies of the state of Florida, a dozen retail shops, a restaurant, and the Lightner Museum itself. City employees will continue to park in the area’s surface lots in the area.

And this is not just the owners and employees, but all those who come downtown to patronize these businesses and organizations. If customers cannot park, they will stop coming.

Of course when there is convenient parking at City Hall, government will be more accessible to residents whether to attend a meeting, pay a bill or secure a permit.

There are other parking facilities in the city’s future, including one at the Visitor Information Center aimed at the seasonal and ever growing numbers of tourists. The third garage shall be located at the Sebastian Harbor project to capture motorists entering downtown on King Street.
As the tourist season has its highs and lows, so will the use of a parking facility at the Visitor Information Center. The prudent thing to do is to build the first parking facility where it is most needed, where it will be used to the fullest and will cost the least. Without a doubt, the Lightner Parking Facility will be nearly fully utilized on its first day and not just on holidays.

Remaining True to Historic Preservation
Change is an inescapable part of urban architecture. Historic preservation seeks to alleviate the impact of change on a historic setting and to promote the useful life of historic buildings. "Adaptive re-use" has become a principled part of the historic preservation movement in the past four decades. Accommodating the modern uses of the large buildings in the vicinity of the proposed Lightner Parking Facility is accordingly a necessary part of the preserving them.

When the colonial city developed east of Cordova Street and, later, when Henry Flagler built his great hotels, there were, of course, no automobiles. By the time the automobile became a fixture in modern life, Flagler's great hotels were already becoming commercially obsolete. By 1960, all three were either vacant or on the verge of becoming vacant. Adaptive re-use preserved all three.

But parking was required for those buildings and others in the vicinity. In 1972, the present parking lot was created. No thought was given at the time to the negative visual impact of that open parking lot on the historic setting.

Federal guidelines address parking facilities in historic settings. They recommend that the new work be differentiated from the old and yet remain compatible in scale and use of materials; that the new structure is free-standing and located to the rear of a primary historic building; that it does not result in the removal of a historic structure and consolidates shared parking spaces; and that it disguises or shields open parking spaces within the historic landscape.

This proposed facility meets those guidelines. It does not exert an adverse impact on the surrounding historic buildings and it will promote their continued useful life.

Design & Appearance
The appearance of the parking facility uses details and materials from the Lightner Building and includes a colonnade with flex space along both sides. The flex space shall contain public offices, meeting rooms and limited commercial activities. Having the one story colonnade and storefronts along the streetscape enhances the pedestrian activity and reduces the scale of the parking facility.

When parking is consolidated into one location, hidden behind the walls of a building that is compatible with those surrounding it, two things are accomplished: On street parking is made available for visitors and short term parking for businesses in the area, and the blight of asphalt surface parking lots is eliminated.

Financing & Operations
Part of the funding will come directly from user fees. Plans under study include parking meters for those who just need to visit City Hall for a short meeting or perhaps are having lunch downtown and monthly fees for those who work downtown and need a parking place every day, such as Flagler College students and office employees.

In addition to the user fees, the City has taken advantage of a dynamic funding source created by the Florida Legislature called a Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) which allows certain property tax dollars to be designated for a specific purpose.

First, a problem has to be designated. Our problem is transportation needs, including parking.

The second step is to designate a geographic area that has the problem and where the tax will be collected. For this CRA, the boundaries are the commercial areas bounded on the north side by Castillo Drive, on the south side by Bridge Street, on the west side by US1, and by Matanzas Bay on the east side.

Then each year a portion of the property taxes collected in the area will be designated to meet the transportation challenges of the downtown area, including assisting in the funding of parking facilities. The CRA will not cause property taxes to increase, but will redirect tax dollars to solve transportation problems in the downtown area.

The construction cost shall be approximately $4.4 million and take 12-15 months to complete. In addition to alleviating parking challenges during business hours Monday through Friday, the parking facility will be available during the evening hours, on weekends, and for special events such as the Fourth of July Fireworks and Nights of Lights holiday celebrations.

Safety First
Since the earliest planning meetings of the Lightner Parking Facility, public safety has been a topic of discussion. The design team, City staff and members of the St. Augustine Police Department have carefully studied and evaluated proven methods of monitoring parking facilities in other communities to determine what is most effective. The design will utilize Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) principles such as creation of defensible spaces and open surveillance areas.

Under consideration are motion sensors, closed circuit television cameras, an abundance of interior and exterior lighting with careful attention paid to intrusion of unnecessary light into the surrounding neighborhood, and periodic patrols by police. Plans are being studied that would provide for an on-site presence such as City offices for customer services and permitting, which would monitor the facility for safety on an as-needed basis.

Traffic Flow & Neighborhood Impacts
Cars entering and exiting the facility will largely be the same cars that enter and exit the surface lots in the area today, so if there is any increase in traffic, it will be insignificant. In addition, traffic created by patrons hunting for a place to park will greatly decrease as they are more likely to drive directly to the facility.

The facility will utilize the same traffic pattern as is in place today with the entrances and exits on Granada and Cordova Streets and none on Bridge Street.

 

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