WRIGHTSVILLE BEACH, N.C. — If you are planning a trip to the beach this holiday weekend, be prepared to pay to park. Wrightsville Beach has turned most of its free spots into paid parking.
A trip to Wrightsville Beach turned into an expensive day at the beach for Monica Jensen of Raleigh. She was ticketed for parking on a residential street.
"Twenty dollars if I pay within 72 hours and $50 in 10 days," she said.
It used to be free to park there -- that changed in March.
"The sign I saw was public access to the beach, so I came down to the parking spot and parked," Jensen said.
The Wrightsville Beach Town Council approved the new paid spots to raise up to $300,000 a year. The money will be used to pay for the increased level of service needed in high season.
"This is basically an user fee for parking that allows you to go the free beach," Town Manager Andrea Sorratt said.
At $1.25 an hour, Elise Larson of Cary does not like the new plan at all.
"I think you should be able to enjoy it because it's a part of nature -- (you should) not to have to pay anything," she said.
Another complaint is people claim the pay stations are not visible enough. Lauren Waldrop said she had no idea about the paid parking.
"I just assumed I could park there. I didn't see any signs," she said.
The town said it went with the discreet pay stations verses meters to be more aesthetically pleasing. Jensen said she is not happy with the new paid parking idea and she will not be back.
"It dampens your 1-1/2 hour trip to the beach," she said.
The town manager said the paid parking will also prevent the town from raising property taxes. It also decreases residential traffic.
Some residents of Wrightsville Beach are not happy with the change because people who come to visit them have to pay. There are only about 400 free spaces left on the south end of the beach.