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WHICH SIDE ARE YOU ON? Downtown Fort Myers parking fees divide businesses

One manager said a customer returned an item they bought, because they had to pay the parking ticket they received instead. But others say business has picked up because the cars turn over faster.
Posted at 11:04 PM, Apr 05, 2024
and last updated 2024-04-05 23:10:34-04

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Since December, downtown Fort Myers has introduced parking fees for street parking, a move that has sparked a range of reactions from the local community and businesses.

Peter Martin, owner of Profile Nail Salon, voiced his concerns about the impact the parking fees are having on his business. "We spend nearly five hundred dollars a month on employee parking," Martin explained to Ft Myers Community Correspondent, Anvar Ruziev.

He further highlighted that his business has faced significant challenges since the implementation of the new parking system with some clients canceling appointments due to the parking fees.

Text from Martin's employee regarding clients cancelling due to parking.

Other shopkeepers shared Martin's concerns, with some noting that the parking fees have forced employees to park farther away, compromising their safety as they make long walks back to their vehicles.

However, the response to the new parking fees isn't universally negative. A block away, Rene Miville, co-owner of The Franklin Shops, shared a different perspective. According to Miville, the parking fees have unexpectedly benefited his business.

"Higher turnover for the parking spaces frees up more spots and brings more people into our shop," Miville stated, suggesting that the increased availability of parking has made the downtown area more accessible to customers.

In response to the mixed reactions, The Franklin Shops are exploring ways to collaborate with the city of Fort Myers. The goal is to find a compromise that could include validating parking for customers who spend a certain amount in their stores, to reduce the impact of the parking fees.

The city council of Fort Myers is also considering adjustments to the parking regulations. On Monday morning, discussions were held about the possibility of implementing free parking in the evenings, though no decision has been finalized.