Popular free parking lot could start charging

File Image. (Ignacio Garcia/KXAN)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — It could soon cost money to park in a popular spot along Lake Austin.

Diners who go to Hula Hut or Mozart’s in West Austin along Lake Austin Boulevard use the Walsh Boat Landing parking lot for free. A parking attendant is only stationed at the lot on weekends from May to September.

But now, the Austin Parks and Recreation Department wants to install parking kiosks, similar to the ones in Downtown Austin, in this lot.

“It’s a solution that will work for now,” said Blake Tollett, a nearby resident, “but it’ll just push the (boat) trailers further and further out.”

One idea is to generate revenue to fix the nearly 60-year-old lot that is full of potholes due to drainage issues.

“If we put parking kiosks here part of the proceeds would come back to the parks and recreation department to maintain the parking lot,” said Charles Vaclavik, Austin Parks & Recreation division manager.

In the next few weeks, the Parks and Recreation Department will spend $10,000 to regrade the Walsh Boat Landing lot to try to eliminate some of the potholes. Estimates to do a complete overhaul on the lot have come in at over $1 million.

The kiosks would also eliminate the need for a parking attendant during the summer months.

But there is concern that if parking is not free diners may choose to park in the nearby Enfield neighborhood. Neighbors there say they already have trouble with overflow from the Walsh Landing parking; boat trailers line the side streets.

The streets are narrow here,” said Karen Kelly, a homeowner in the neighborhood. “You get these gigantic trailers so you can’t even turn the corners.”

Vaclavik says parking kiosks are being considered for that area as well.

“That way the overflow from here won’t spill over into the neighborhood and effect the neighbors,” said Vaclavik. “We want to make sure we are being good neighbors.”

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