Talk of the Town - May 2021
- story by Wendy Sullivan
- photos by Wendy Sullivan and Ellis Anderson
Small towns often spawn big rumors. For instance, this eye-widening question was heard recently at a local café: “Did you know that Bay St. Louis is getting parking meters?”
The search for fact-based information since first overhearing that conversation has been revealing – especially the interview with Bay St. Louis Mayor Mike Favre.
Spoiler alert: The short answer to city street parking meters is “No” – at least for now, although a city workshop is planned (date to be announced) to discuss the concept and other possible solutions. Read on for more details.
Talk of the Town
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Good News/Bad News
The growing popularity of Bay St. Louis as a tourist destination has become a good news/bad news situation. Increased revenue and investment in the town has led to significant parking and traffic challenges in Old Town and on Beach Boulevard.
Clearly, the parking challenges need to be addressed. In the past few years, several kerfuffles have taken place in the public arena of Facebook, from booting episodes in private lots to people having their cars boxed in after parking in unofficial spots.
For the three large churches located in Old Town, maintaining accessible parking for senior and physically challenged parishioners has been an ongoing concern. Rev. Chris Klingenfus of the Main Street United Methodist Church noted that more members of the public seem to be using the church’s private spaces during programs and service hours.
A review of City Council minutes over the past three years showed that despite parking often being raised as a topic for discussion, few detailed solutions have been agreed upon.
An Interview with the Mayor
The Shoofly Magazine interviewed Bay St. Louis Mayor Mike Favre last week, who confirmed that the city’s parking situation has become serious. He outlined the following issues and the city’s current plans to address them.
- As noted earlier, streets have become congested with insufficient parking spaces, trucks blocking roadways and pedestrian traffic. The city is developing and implementing the following:
- Redesigning and striping the streets, including parking spaces.
- Designating loading and unloading areas.
- Creating new signage with loading and parking guidelines.
- Increasing enforcement of loading and parking restrictions.
- Planning a city workshop to explore the feasibility of metered spaces on the streets (date to be announced).
Free Court Street Parking Garage
- Repairs and upgrades are planned for the garage including the following:
- Redesigning the current spaces to include golf cart-designated spaces.
- Repairs to the overall parking structure.
- Posting larger and more visible signs to the garage.
- One rumor circulating around town is the possibility that church lots might install parking meters. According to the mayor, there is no plan for the city to partner with churches on metered lots.
- It is the mayor’s understanding that a private parking company has approached several downtown churches with a proposal to add meters to their lots. Fr. Michael O’Connor, pastor at Our Lady of the Gulf Catholic Church on Beach Blvd., said that the church has been approached by Premier Parking. While a decision hasn’t been made yet, Fr. O’Connor acknowledged, “We do need to do something to manage our parking.”
By ordinance, hotels in C1 Districts are not required to provide parking, but it is good practice.
- The Pearl Hotel at the corner of Beach and Main has plans in the works for a parking lot with 50–60 spaces at 119 Main Street, the former site of a local bar. The Mississippi State Historic Preservation Office is weighing in on the design.
- Two lots with 100 metered spaces are in the process of being built on Beach Blvd., just southwest of the railroad tracks, one on each side of the road. A private parking company will manage the lots, which are owned by the Pearl.
As discussions evolve, steps are being considered towards these community concerns about parking challenges. Residents, parish members and businesses will want to attend the proposed city workshop on parking when it is scheduled. Look for details when available on the Shoofly Magazine’s Upcoming Events page or on our Community Calendar.