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Business Owners Pay For Parking After Town Refuses To Waive Fees For Fundraiser

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Managing Editor

CAROLINA BEACH - The Carolina Beach Town Council agreed to not waive parking fees for a local fundraiser at their October 1st special meeting. On October 6th, the organizers of a boat cruise to benefit Michael McGowan’s Cystic Fibrosis fund posted notices on parking pay-stations near the Carolina Beach Municipal Marina telling ticket holders not to pay for parking.
Lisa Wilkins sent an email to Interim Town Manager Ed Parvin on September 26th. She wrote, "On October 6th we are hosting a fundraiser for Michael McGowan’s Cystic Fibrosis fund. We have sold 300 tickets and are doing a sunset cruise on the Winner Boat. We are asking the town to waive the parking fees for the event which will be at 5:30pm till 8:30pm on that Sunday evening. Thanking you in advance for your prompt attention to this matter."
Parvin responded, "This sounds like a great event that will be successful! Unfortunately, although we would like to, we can't waive parking. If we waive parking for your fundraiser then we would have to be consistent and waive it for everyone. Thank you for the note. Please let us know if we can help in another way."
The sign posted on the pay-stations prior to the cruise stated, "Do not pay any parking fees" and, "Parking fees donated by McGowan and Wilkins families in honor of Michael McGowan's fundraiser. We know we are going on a boat ride but because it is not a regatta and we are not going fishing the Town Council had voted no to waive the parking fees for the 45 minutes. Do not forget November 5th."
The question was posted on the CBcandidates Facebook page and several people responded.
Carolina Beach Mayor Bob Lewis is seeking election as Mayor. He explained, "We have a special meeting of council and we can discuss this on Tuesday, but we have waived parking for things like the beach sweep so I am not sure why we could not work out something for this event especially since it is the off season."
During the Council's Tuesday October 1st, Special meeting at 4PM at Town Hall, Mayor Bob Lewis said, "They were asking if we could waive parking between 5:30 to 7:00PM. Seems like we've waived parking before.  We did the beach sweep... there was a waiver of parking in certain areas."
Parvin explained, "There are events that we have that parking is waived as part of an organized event. Typically for a private fundraisers, that's not an organized event. You haven't but you can if you want to. You need to make a motion."
Councilman Steve Shuttleworth said when events such as Wing Fling or the Got-Em-On Live Bait Club fishing tournament occupy public parking areas the Town doesn't lose the revenue because people park elsewhere and pay for parking.
Brenda Butler is in charge of event permitting for the Town and said, "We’ve never given all parking free. We might give four or five spaces or one row of parking, but we do not give away a whole events parking."
Steve said, "It didn't come to council and it just ended up as an email that got Facebook posted."
Parvin explained, "It's a fundraiser they want to do. It's a private thing. They are going out on the Winner Boats. Just like anybody else. My concern would be setting a precedent. We need to have a policy of what types of fundraisers that would apply to because anybody could have a fundraiser at anytime and you could really open yourself up."
Parvin explained, "You need to be consistent."
Councilman Tom Bridges said, "I agree with that. If we don't have a precedent before we don't need to start now."
Sarah Friede said, "Parking is free after 7PM."
Lewis explained, "Out of 300 people that bought tickets there will probably be 70 cars that don't have a pass." Lewis estimated it would be around $150.00 at $2.25 for approximately 70 cars.
Friede said, "I have some concerns about the precedent we are setting and this is not an event, a Town event that went through Brenda or the Arts and Activities Committee. This isn't a parking lot we are closing or staging area which is what we do for some of these other things.
And I think its really difficult for us as a Town to say yes we like you, we'll do it for you, but we don't want to do it for whomever else comes and asks. I don't know that you can do that in all fairness."
Bridges explained, "It may not be much money now, but if you set a precedent, who are you going to turn down. Eventually it’s going to accumulate to a pretty good point."
Friede said, "They're not even events, we don't really know anything about them. How far are we going to have staff dig in to what's going on?" and, "I'm for not to start doing that."
Public parking is free from November 1st to March 31st.
The Council has suspended parking fees and enforcement for events in the past. One example, in August of 2009 the Council suspended parking fees for the Salty Paws Festival at the Carolina Beach Lake.
Following the October 6th fundraiser, Mayor Lewis explained, "Last week no one from event came to me and asked me to do something about the parking issue. The town's interim manager made the decision early last week. When I found out about from some word of mouth I brought it to council's attention at our special meeting held last week trying to find a compromise which may of worked. The decision was that if we waived the parking for one (very worthy cause) we would have to consider waiving it for all. My wife and I had tickets and participated on the cruise with other friends and I would of paid $1.50 for a hour of parking if I didn't have a parking sticker. I felt most likely their would be little
or no enforcement of the parking for the last hour of the day on an October Sunday night and did not feel anyone who was supporting the cause would complain about $1.50 parking fee. I also sponsored a softball team @ $250.00 in the Mike McGowen Softball
Tournament this past weekend as I feel strongly about the contribution Mike and his family have made to our community and wanted to support both the cause to find a cure as well as support the scholarship fund in his name for the Culinary Arts."
Lisa Soehl-Wilkins of Wilkins & Wilkins General Contractors in Carolina Beach explained Tuesday October 8th, "I want to lay to rest the rumors going around town. My husband and I were the ones who put the signs on the parking meters after
we decided with Shelly to pay for the parking up front. Someone out there is lying and spreading rumors. We take full credit to show what Town Council decided. Yes, at first it was the interim Town Manager that denied the request via e-mail, however at the Town Council meeting on October 1st is was decided by all members there that they would not support to wave 45 minutes. The boat left at 6:15 and the Town Parking ends at 7pm. We want everyone to know that the only people that made money that evening was Carolina Beach Town Parking. I personally listened to the recordings from that meeting, it was not "voted" on but they all decided to not waive the fee. Do not forget to Vote in November and vote the 3 out! 3 down 2 to go! We raised over $10,000.00 that evening to honor one of our own. MICHAEL MCGOWAN LIVES ON IN ALL OUR HEARTS FOREVER!"
Wilkins said their company and Michael's Seafood Restaurant paid the Town's parking enforcement company, Lanier Parking, with a check in the amount of $150.00. She said a representative of Lanier said the parking office was closing at 4PM that day but Wilkins said they paid for the parking anyway to be sure there were no tickets issued.
Wilkins explained, "The parking was paid in full by my husband and myself and the McGowan family. It just would have been nice for the Town to show their support and
reciprocate as Michael and Shelly have done for over 15 years of countless volunteered hours from serving on the Chamber to Michael's coaching Pleasure Island sporting events. I could name another two dozen things but it was the point."
Mayor Lewis said the upcoming Dragon Boat Regatta event set for October 25 and 26 at the Carolina Beach Municipal Marina at Canal Drive and Carl Winner Street.
Lewis said parking will not be waived for that event. People will have to pay to park in area public parking lots.