Drivers snub new $18m Coast carpark
Hundreds of spaces at the new $18 million Mooloolaba paid parking facility are empty as drivers are circling the streets to find a free spot.
Businesses and residents say the 700-space Park 'n' Go facility has been left relatively empty after Sunshine Coast Council introduced a $2.50 an hour fee last Monday.
Mooloolaba Chamber of Commerce president Graeme Juniper believes part of the problem was residents and tourists were unaware it was open and because of the facility's unfamiliar name.
Mr Juniper said many locals also refused to pay for parking.
Council did not confirm to the Daily how many cars parked in the facility last week.
Mooloolaba residents of 16 years Phil and Jill Sickling visit the beach most days and said they wouldn't use the new car park.
"Not if we have to pay for it … we would search the streets instead," Mr Sickling said.
They spend between two and three hours at the beachfront almost everyday and could not justify the $7 it would cost to park.
Mr Sickling said he didn't agree with the council's decision and was disappointed the community did not have more of a say.
"Residents weren't asked if they wanted council to spend $18 million on a car park, and then be charged to use it," he said.
Steven Lessells and Peter Kruidenier also opted for a beach carpark on Friday morning when they visited the esplanade.
With Mr Kruidenier requiring a disabled car park they said the facility was too far away for a beach visit.
Tourist Lesley Schimke said she didn't know the carpark was open.
"We're on holidays, so we've checked out today and just found a park at the beach," she said. "If we were here for the day we would've used the carpark though."
A council spokesman said it was too early to gauge the community's awareness of the carpark.
He said a promotion plan was being rolled out and feedback received to date was "very positive".
"The ParknGo branding makes the car park more than just a place to leave your car," he said.
"It provides facilities such as vehicle charging stations, bicycle parking and retail shops.
"It's a link between Point A and Point B in someone's journey."
Mr Juniper said while they called on the council to offer three hours free parking, he believed the $2.50 fee was reasonable.
"We want people to know it's available and to please come and use it, because really it sits right next to the beach and the shops," Mr Juniper said.
"It's a fabulous location and when it's completed it'll look really good.
"We need to assure locals who haven't been coming to Mooloolaba for years because they can't find a park is that now there is no reason to complain, because you will always find a park."