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Even as revenues exceed projections, Brunswick beaches with paid parking to review issues

By Renee Spencer, Wilmington StarNews,


As tourist season wraps up, town officials in Oak Island and Holden Beach are looking at their paid parking programs.

It was the second year of paid parking in Holden Beach, and the first in Oak Island.

Both towns are using Otto Connect as their vendor, and with a few weeks left in the paid parking season, both towns will see what, if any, changes will be made for next year.

Here are four things you need to know.

The paid parking season is still under way.

Paid parking ends on September 30 in Oak Island and on October 31 in Holden Beach.

Paid parking revenues exceeding expectations.

While neither town has yet to see its final revenue numbers from the program, officials in both towns say they expect a good return.

Mike Emory, spokesman for the town of Oak Island, did not provide any specific number for parking revenues and said a final report is expected in November.

According to the town’s approved 2023-2024 fiscal year budget, paid parking revenues are estimated to be $730,000.

“While exact figures won’t be available until the final report, it is safe to say the program is tracking to meet or even exceed original revenue expectations,” Emory said.

Holden Beach is also anticipating healthy revenues from paid parking. According to the town’s budget, those are estimated to be around $400,000.

Holden Beach still has more than a month left in its paid parking season, which doesn’t end until October 31.

Mayor Alan Holden said at this time, revenues have already exceeded 2022.

Funds will be used to improve public areas.

In Oak Island, Emory noted the funds would be used “to improve and maintain the beach access locations and public beach areas.

“As allocating funds before the first season is over would be premature, no purchasing (has) been made, and likely will not be made until funds have been audited with sufficient reserve amounts established,” Emory said.

In Holden Beach, Holden noted all proceeds will go back into the town facilities, including its restrooms, showers, and beach accesses.

Rolling out paid parking program wasn’t easy.

The Oak Island Town Council discussed some of the issues the town faced. One of the biggest issues was resident decals.

“We were showing we had around 8,000,” said Oak Island Town Manager David Kelly. “We ended up with almost 20,000, so there’s a lot of those out there.”

Other issues included collections, parking at the pier and business, and offering free parking for town events in Middleton Park.

Emory said the town council will host a program review meeting in November, and the date would be announced on the town’s parking information webpage.

Holden said overall the second year of paid parking has gone much smoother than the first.

“We’ve got hiccups in it, but overall, it’s working pretty well,” he said.

He noted the town’s board of commissioners would also conduct a review of the program in the coming months.

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