BAY ST. LOUIS, Miss. (WLOX) - Parking in downtown Bay St. Louis may be a challenge, especially during big events, but city leaders are trying to let people know the solution is literally around the corner.
The free public parking garage on Court Street, which has been open since 2010, offers 120 spaces. It even has spaces for golf carts and electric cars. But it doesn’t seem like people are taking advantage of those spots.
Despite signage on Beach Boulevard, as well as throughout the downtown area, the garage sits mostly empty. City leaders are trying to encourage employees in the downtown area to utilize the garage and free up spaces for visitors.
“A lot of times what happens is the out-of-towners will drive through here, they can’t find a place to park, and they just keep going,” explained Bay St. Louis city council president Larry Smith. " We don’t want that to happen any more. We need to let people know that we have free parking here and it’s available to everyone. Even if you want to park your golf cart here. We have the facility to do that."
The structure is designed to accommodate another floor of parking should the demand increase.
The Bay St. Louis downtown parking garage was designed by the firm Unabridged Architecture and is a model of sustainable design. The two-level 120-space concrete parking structure serves the adjacent Hancock County courthouse and commercial district. It comprises nearly 32,000 square feet and cost $3.2 million to build.
The parking structure has one supported level and stairs screened with vertical “green” walls of live native plants and vines. Collected stormwater irrigates the plants and reduces water runoff. Low-level, efficient lighting provide a secure night-time environment while meeting dark-sky initiatives. Other green initiatives include the 12 KW solar photovoltaic system to meet over 45 percent of the garage’s power requirement. A bi-directional meter tracks excess power supplied to the grid.