Parking fee for out-of-county residents proposed at Cocoa Beach park

Fees would be used to maintain Lori Wilson Park

Lori Wilson Park in Cocoa Beach. Photo by Florida Today.
Lori Wilson Park in Cocoa Beach. Photo by Florida Today.

COCOA BEACH, Fla. – Brevard County commissioners on Tuesday will discuss plans for a major upgrade to Lori Wilson Park in Cocoa Beach.

Under the proposal, the county would create a "beachfront parks enterprise plan."

That plan includes establishing parking fees for out-of-county visitors, News 6 partner Florida Today reported.

Commissioner Jim Barfield, whose district includes Cocoa Beach, said he would consider supporting parking fees only if Brevard County residents still could park there for free.

Under the proposal, parking fee revenue would be used to maintain Lori Wilson Park, and to pay for a capital maintenance, operation and improvement plan.

Barfield said the improvements will include such things as new trails, green areas and pavilions, as well as improved accessibility for people who have disabilities.

Lori Wilson Park "has become more of a destination park for people who live in Central Florida," Barfield said. "It's an old park," so the improvements are needed.

"The increase in usage, especially by non-residents and tourists, has stressed the resources of Brevard County Parks and Recreation Department," according to the proposal, submitted by Barfield. "With the expectation for continued flat-lining of tax support for operations, but with continuing increases in operating costs, operating the Parks Department at the current service levels into the future will prove to be difficult."

Barfield said that, although the initial draft in the agenda package also includes a proposal for a $20-a-year annual parking pass for Brevard County residents, it is not something he would support.

Regardless of what is decided on the parking fees, admission to Lori Wilson Park would remain free, Barfield said.

Under the proposal, the Tourist Development Council and its Beach Committee would provide the oversight for the beachfront parks enterprise plan.

The County Commission would continue to approve all budget and agenda items related to Lori Wilson Park.

Barfield said Tuesday's County Commission discussion will be a preliminary step.

Commissioners at a future meeting would discuss criteria for the beachfront parks enterprise plan and for the Lori Wilson Park improvement plan.