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Parking experts provide process presentation

June 5, 2013
By BOB PETCHER ( , Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

Two consultants from Walker Parking, Inc. gave a power-point presentation on public/private partnerships for parking to Fort Myers Beach Town Council and staff members during a workshop Monday afternoon. A general request for proposal for a Beach parking facility structure is being sought to help alleviate the parking issue on the island.

The initial presentation was made available after Council agreed last month to have parking representatives come to the Beach and present an informal introduction of the company's work.

"A public/private partnership is a contractual agreement between a project agency or agencies and a private sector entity," said Tom Sobczak, parking consultant for Walker Parking. "You look at the risk and rewards and try to share a balance amongst the parties so that no one is kind of holding the bag in the end."

Article Photos

Walker Parking Consultant Tom Sobczak explains the workings of his company during a power-point presentation at Town Hall Monday afternoon.

Sobczak reviewed the seven keys to a successful public/private partnership. It involves a public sector champion (spokeperson/leader), statutory environment (legal contract), organized structure (contractual obligation, etc.), detailed business plan (anticipations, goals, shared interests), clearly defined revenue stream (how to pay for it in long run), stakeholder support (public interest) and picking your partner carefully.

"It's a relationship that will be around for a while, so you want to make sure you can trust the people you work with and have all the pieces in place so that relationship will be smooth during the 10 to 20 years of the process," said Sobczak. "You try to divide the risk according to the spoils. The person who has the most risk should have most of the rewards."

The parking consultant explained payment for such a large project could come from deeds, tax incremental financing or long-term maintenance contracts to name a few.

"Who is responsible for the maintenance? It's not always the private party. It can be shared between the public and the private, and sometimes the public takes care of it," said Sobczak. "Be open and flexible to ideas, then weigh the pros and cons."

Stakeholder support was stated to be "by far the most important thing" in the keys to succeed within the partnership.

"You need to have the people behind you from the citizen, parking users and businesses around it," said Sobczak. "Communicate the facts. Don't let the myths start building. Make sure the facts are out there. Get the community involved."

First steps in reaching out for such a project would be market analysis, legal analysis, financial analysis and engineering/design analysis.

"Market analysis basically addresses the need -if you need more parking and how much more parking is needed," said Sobczak. "Will it enhance the general welfare, safety, health and create jobs? Will it ease the traffic? If you build it, will they come? Will you be able to pay off the bond or whatever financial arrangement is?"

The engineering end will deal with a criteria package from how many spaces to mixed-use retail on a primary street to other programming strategies such as ingress and egress methods.

If the Beach officials wish to pursue such a project, the first step would be a market analysis to identify the need.

"By doing a market analysis, you kind of quantify that," said Sobczak. "You can move forward with a supply-and-demand study, then look at all the operations that are currently out there to see what are they charging, how often are their spaces filled up and the other basics."

"It might be more important to get a good handle on what happens offseason," added Tom Butcher, executive vice president for Walker Parking. "Because when you start running financial numbers, you want to know what is happening during June, July and August and not just January, February and March."

Walker Parking has been around for nearly 50 years and has built a resume of more than 3,000 parking structures over the U.S. and 14 countries. As well as providing a basis and process for their work, the company can stretch into the approach, funding and cost of project once that project is defined.

Walker Parking, which has done local facilities in Miami and Punta Gorda is currently working with the City of Sarasota. Sarasota, which has a similar seasonal season to the Beach, had a supply-and-demand study done with a general cost of $20,000 to $30,000 for the market analysis.

One should keep in mind a parking facility is not a short-term solution for the traffic and parking issues on the island. But, it could serve as a long-term idea.

Go to to view parking structures or find out more about the company.



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