Franklin County looks to resolve issues with influx of tourism at the beaches

Cars were blocking in other cars over the weekend, and people were fighting over parking spaces.
Cars were blocking in other cars over the weekend, and people were fighting over parking spaces.(WJHG)
Published: May. 18, 2020 at 5:34 PM CDT
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With the beaches open and Phase One in full swing, people from all over have flocked to the Gulf. This has created quite an issue in terms of parking in Franklin County, specifically on St. George Island and Alligator Point.

“A lot of people come here and if there’s not a parking space, they’ll park on the edge of the road. They’ll park in peoples homes. We’ve had a lot of calls for people wanting to go to the beach and just pulling under a house and parking and going to the beach,” said Franklin County Sheriff A.J. Smith.

Sheriff Smith says these problems may not seem like that big of a deal, but they have a negative effect on solving problems elsewhere.

“Yesterday, I had four deputies there. That is not a good use of resources for deputies to be writing tickets. We have other things we need to do,” said Sheriff Smith.

Along with the parking issues, the masses headed to these beaches have caused an influx in littering and other illegal activities.

“It’s just become a dangerous situation safety-wise and health-wise because there are no facilities here,” said Alligator Point Resident Bill McMillan.

Residents of Alligator Point say they have become frustrated because they are not reaping the economic benefits tourism brings due to the scarcity of stores, gas stations, and other places they usually spend money.

“It’s a tough thing. You don’t want to say no the public can’t come here, but in a situation like this, there is absolutely no infrastructure to support them being here,” said McMillan.

Sheriff Smith hopes to resolve some of the issues Tuesday at the County Commission meeting by introducing the idea of booting cars instead of towing. He hopes this will help them gain efficiency in solving the problem of parking.

“This is the fourth year that I’ve been dealing with this problem in Alligator Point, and it’s time for it to stop,” said Sheriff Smith.

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