City prepares to implement satellite parking plan

400-LITZINGER-MUMFORDIn a request that will come before the St Johns County Tourist Development Council for funding Monday, St Augustine Comptroller Mark Litzinger has articulated a satellite parking plan and shuttle that he tells Historic City News editor Michael Gold will allow the city to manage large-attendance events, like the upcoming Mumford and Sons concert.

Litzinger and St Augustine City Manager John Regan met with former mayor, George Gardner, who publishes a community newsletter “The St Augustine Report”, and Historic City News, to be sure that media coverage of the planned program includes information containing as many pertinent, reliable details as possible.

“If St Augustine is to continue to grow and attract events that have positive, multi-million-dollar economic impacts, we are going to have to establish a sustainable transportation plan capable of moving tens-of-thousands of people without destroying the quality of life for those of us who already live here,” Litzinger said.

As details continue to come together, this is a test, of sorts, for the city who wants to attract peak-season capacity during the 450th commemoration two years from now, with one important difference — about 10,000 doors, hotel rooms, or other short-term rental units have all but “sold out” in St Augustine for the weekend of the Gentlemen of the Road stop-over event.

“We don’t have to guess,” Regan told reporters today, speaking about the expected attendance. “We know that 25,000 tickets have been sold to people who are coming from around the country — those folks are coming to enjoy the concert, shop in our stores, eat in our restaurants, and stay in our lodgings.”

Guaranteeing, to the extent possible, that those visitors have a positive experience when they discover St Augustine and Florida’s Historic Coast, depends, in no small part, on their ability to find safe satellite parking with adequate security and a reliable, frequent shuttle system in the most convenient locations possible, Litzinger pointed out.

A St Johns County map with a lot of magic marker boxes, arrows, and numbers hangs in the second-floor conference room of the city’s financial services building. Litzinger has been feverishly testing, reviewing, and running numbers to determine the most efficient way to ensure that the city can prove itself viable as a venue for more than local events such as the Rhythm and Ribs, Seafood Festival, Romanza or the Celtic Festival.

Ryan Murphy will make a presentation to the council on behalf of the City of St Augustine; requesting approval to use $129,485 in TDC reserve funds to ensure the success of the September 13 and 14, 2013, event.

The system being proposed will be capable of shuttling people to the historic area, Visitor Information Center, and to-and-from the designated satellite parking areas. This will minimize the transportation impact on residents, encourage pedestrian traffic, and support a “bike valet”.

The system being developed, if successful, will serve as a model for all major events moving forward.

It is estimated that the concert event will have a positive economic impact of $2,500,000 to 3,000,000 in St Augustine and St Johns County.

The parking, shuttling and event support will cost $361,438, with anticipated revenue of $231,953; the grant, if approved, will finance the $129,485 shortfall.

If you are planning to attend, the Tourist Development Council Regular Meeting will be held on Monday, June 17, 2013 at 1:30 p.m. in the St Johns County Auditorium located at 500 San Sebastian View in St Augustine.

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