Pay-By-Space Marina Parking

By Shakira Ericksen

Financial problems at the Marina are leading staff to look for new solutions to generate revenue.

The City of Des Moines is considering setting up a pay-by-space parking system at the Des Moines Marina and Beach Park. The Marina was hit hard by the recession and has been losing money for the last three years.
The average loss per year was about $65,000. The parking plan for the Marina will be based on the successful pay-by-space parking system already in place at Redondo Beach.

There have been a series of public hearings to present the plan to the citizens of Des Moines for feedback and discussion.
The plan to have paid parking at the Marina is partly motivated by deteriorating facilities.

The key message Harbormaster Joe Dusenbury wants the public to understand is that pay-by-space parking will provide sustaining funds to maintain and operate the facilities for public safety and security at the Marina and Beach Park.

“The City is committed to supporting a strong business climate in the Marina District by providing quality public waterfront facilities for its citizens and visitors. The improvements will draw more users,” said Dusenbury.

Pedestrians will continue to have free access to the Marina and Beach Park Waterfront.

“Recreational boating is discretionary spending and the recession had a significant impact on the Marina’s revenues,” said Harbormaster Dusenbury. “Based on our experience at Redondo, it shouldn’t take long for parking revenues to fill that gap. The problem is that we need to put $300,000 to $400,000 per year in the capital fund for the next several years to get some of the projects that were supposed to be done before 2022 finished.”

The money generated from parking will go towards the Marina Capital Fund.

Pay-by-space parking at the Marina and Beach Park is a staff proposal that will have to be approved by the Des Moines City Council.

Pay-by-space parking will not provide the entire amount needed, but will, along with other revenue sources like potential commercial development, help to get the Marina back on solid financial footing.

According to Harbormaster Dusenbury, there are costs associated with running a Marina which people don’t typically think of.

Last year $8,200 was spent on restroom supplies, garbage bags and cleaning supplies. An additional $4,000 was also spent on doggie bags and another $2,500 to $3,000 on signage which needs to be constantly replaced and updated.

Utilities are also a major expense. Last year the Marina spent about $28,000 on utilities for the public areas of the Marina and Redondo. The largest expense is labor: including Redondo, the Marina staff average about four man hours per day cleaning the parking lots and restrooms which are open 359 days per year.

“In the summer season most of that work is done by our seasonal workers so I estimate that our labor costs for janitorial and clean-up related to the public areas of the Marina are about $40,000 per year,” said Harbormaster Dusenbury.

Although there has been some negative backlash to the proposal, Harbormaster Dusenbury said that on a personal level he’s not too worried about it.

“I’ve worked in waterfront facilities for the last 20 years so I feel I have a right to tell people what’s on my mind. Also, I live in Des Moines and I plan to stay here after I retire so I am speaking as a citizen also.”

However is he concerned about the negative backlash directed at the City.

Some citizens have voiced concerns that having to pay for parking would take away from the Marina being a special place and would destroy the vibe of the Marina.

“It’s hard for me to understand how anyone could think anything is ‘free’ but I believe it is a common perception. A reasonable person should agree that it takes a significant effort and some expense to keep the Marina a ‘special’ place and if we reduce that level of effort and expense it will not be so special,” said Harbormaster Dusenbury.

The proposed pay-by-space parking would utilize visible parking kiosks which would be set up for the use of cash and credit cards.

The kiosks will provide flexibility for different events as they can be programmed to reflect differing fees, time slots, parking zones and coupon codes.

Pay-by-space parking is more flexible and business and event friendly than other forms of paid parking. Boat moorage tenants will have convenient parking areas, public fishing pier uses will have paid parking permits and it allows for temporary permits to be issued as needed, according to Harbormaster Dusenbury.

Anthony’s restaurant and CSR Marine and Classic Yachts will have dedicated spaces and/or coupon codes.

If an event is happening at the beach park the kiosks can easily be programed to accept coupon codes.

The parking rates proposed are similar to the rates at Redondo Beach. The quarterly or annual parking pass is similar to that of State Parks.

• 1-2 hours - $1.00
• 2 hours - $2.25
• 3 hours – $3.50
• 4 hours - $5.00
• 5 hours - $6.50
• All Day - $8.00

The parking rates were designed to be affordable for all users.
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