Grayton has lots of underground utilities including TV/internet cables, gas lines, phone lines, and electrical lines. Before you DIG please call 811 annd the companies will come out and mark where the lines are. There is no cost for this service.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Parking on Hotz Update

Update on the parking on Hotz.

A group of concerned Grayton residents held a meeting to work on coming up with a solution to the parking woes on Hotz street. Their goal was to come up with suggested solutions that would be better for the Grayton Community other than turning Hotz into a one way street. This group was not formed under the GBNA. The GBNA bylaws (can be read on blog) prevented us from doing that with out a majority approval of our membership. Time did not allow us to do a mailout.
The group met on September 2nd and brain stormed as many ideas as possible. Then the group drew up a letter to hand deliver to Commissioner Jones on Sept. 8th. I have permission to share the letter here on the blog: (names of signers have been removed)

September 8, 2009

The Honorable Cecilia Jones
Commissioner, District 5
70 Logan Lane
Santa Rosa Beach, FL 32459

Re: Grayton Parking Issues
Dear Commissioner Jones:

Please accept this belated thank you for the community meeting you arranged and conducted relating to Grayton Beach’s parking problem. We appreciate your proactive approach and commend your willingness to seek community consensus on a problem that has a direct impact on the health and safety of Grayton Beach residents and guests. Grayton Beach is a wonderful community with many historic assets, and it must be protected so that future generations can enjoy this unique coastal village.

Last Thursday, a majority of Grayton Beach full-time residents and owners held a meeting to discuss the parking and traffic flow issues of downtown Grayton related to emergency vehicle access. This group represents four living generations of Graytonites and families dating back to the beginning of our 120-year history. Our consensus is that Hotz Avenue parking can be adjusted to maintain two-way traffic and still provide emergency vehicle access. We also propose that Residential Preservation Parking Zones be established for the residential properties that are located outside of the Hotz Avenue business district. Finally, we encourage the county to work with the Hotz Avenue businesses to develop off-site parking alternatives for their patrons. While we do not have all the answers, we believe that the County’s objectives can be met with minimal intrusion into the community.

As was discussed at the original meeting that you hosted, the idea of a one-way on Hotz Avenue between DeFuniak Street and Garfield Street seemed, at first blush, to be part of the solution. In hindsight, however, we question the wisdom of changing the traffic patterns in Grayton Beach in a way that would effectively promote the commercial interests in the community above and beyond the long-time, historical residential interests in Grayton Beach. We worry about the negative impact that a one-way street will have on the lives of full-time and part-time residents who live in “old Grayton.”

As background, the issues that we face in Grayton today were, unfortunately, partially created by Walton County. Specifically, approximately 10 years ago the County directed Hall Engineering to look at the parking issues associated with the growing commercial activities in Grayton and to develop a new parking plan. The plan that was ultimately implemented eliminated the parallel parking on both sides of Hotz, which had existed for decades, and replaced it with the current angled-parking configuration. It was this action that created the bottleneck and safety problem that now exists in Grayton. As a community we cannot allow our safety to be compromised and we greatly appreciate that you have made our safety your priority.

Although the current number of downtown parking spaces would be maintained under the plan to make Hotz Avenue one-way, this design would have the unfortunate result of forcing all vehicles – every single car and delivery truck – to travel through the narrow residential streets in old Grayton. This part of Grayton is the most heavily populated, and visitors and residents with small children are always out and about in the yards and walking down the streets to get to the beach. While many cars already travel down these roads, we strongly believe that the increased traffic burden caused by making Hotz Avenue one-way would be detrimental to the community, and would create even more safety issues.

After discussing the various proposals today, we have determined that the simplest solution, the one that has the least negative impact on the community, may be to just return to our former parking pattern, or at least a hybrid of the former parking pattern. Specifically, the community would be agreeable to angled parking on the north side of Hotz Avenue and parallel parking on the south side of Hotz Avenue (or vice versa). While this solution will eliminate a few parking spaces, it will significantly widen the traffic corridor on Hotz Avenue, immediately restore the two-way traffic flow to this integral road in Grayton, and allow residents and emergency vehicles alike unencumbered access to all of Grayton.

Sadly, this issue is one that should have been addressed years ago. While Grayton has always enjoyed its commercial establishments, the increased number of restaurants and businesses and the increased popularity of these establishments has amplified the burdens on our neighborhood way past the “tipping point.” For the past few years, the increased pressures that these businesses have brought to our community include parking issues, noise issues, speeding issues, and general loitering and nuisance issues. Our small historical community is at its breaking point.

While we are happy to have the local businesses and hope for their continued success, it is unfair that the residents of old Grayton bear the brunt of the impacts of the growing parking problems. Now is the time for the commercial interests in Grayton to help solve these problems. Specifically, if there is not enough parking in downtown Grayton – and everyone agrees that there isn’t – the businesses will need to seek additional property (outside of Grayton) to lease or purchase for an overflow parking lot. Not only would this relieve the current stress on Grayton but it would be a gesture of good will on the part of the businesses. These businesses have an obligation, when possible, to relieve the daily burdens that would not exist in Grayton but for their operation.

What we would ask of you, as our Commissioner, is that the block of Hotz Avenue between DeFuniak and Garfield Streets continue to act as a 2-way street and as the main parking for “downtown” Grayton businesses. In order to safely accommodate emergency vehicles, we ask that the parking be changed from angled to parallel on one side of Hotz Avenue. We ask that parking be prohibited on the sand access to the beach – a huge safety issue blocking emergency access to the beach - and that the County Commission help us, as a community, come up with a rational way to deal with the problem of restaurant/business patrons parking on private residential property. The people of old Grayton are tired of barricading their driveways to keep commercial patrons from parking there and they are tired of maintaining a constant vigilance in order to protect their property from trespassers.

To this end, we believe that Residential Preservation Parking Zones must be established pursuant to a new ordinance or through the use of existing ordinance(s) to limit commercial business parking to Hotz Avenue and defined right-of-way immediately adjacent to commercial businesses. Stated another way commercial parking should not be permitted in the residential portion of Grayton – an ordinance would provide the sheriff enforcement authority rather than the current enforcement which requires residents to protect their property and call tow trucks. This is an unfair way to live and no resident of Walton County should be required to tolerate this intrusion.

Thank you for your leadership on this issue. Our safety and quality of life is in jeopardy. Solutions exist – realign the parking on Hotz Avenue so that emergency vehicles will always have clear access, eliminate commercial creep into our residential community by the establishment of Residential Parking Zones through appropriate ordinances, require businesses to provide adequate off-site parking for their patrons, and eliminate parking on the western sand access to the beach. The citizens of Grayton deserve no less and our safety mandates such consideration. Commissioner Jones, we stand ready to work with you and the businesses to resolve these issues and thank you again for your service to Walton County.


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