Recent reports and community concerns have given voice to a worrying lack of available car parking in Merimbula.

However, according to a recent council audit, there are in fact 700 “surplus to requirements” car spaces –whether anyone can find them though is up for debate.

At last week’s council meeting, BVSC director of strategy and business services Lucas Scarpin told councillors about a recent audit of existing car parking in Merimbula so discussions about future provision can start “from a position of fact”.

Mr Scarpin said the audit showed a surplus to requirements of 700 spots, a claim not expected to sit well with motorists and businesses long frustrated with an apparent lack of available parking.

While council puts forward plans for short-term solutions ahead of the peak summer period, the Merimbula Chamber of Commerce said better planning is needed.

Current works on the Merimbula bypass have closed access to numerous car spaces in the CBD, though these will be put back in play once the roadwork is complete.

The same goes oncedevelopment begins on the Main St site opposite Woolworths, where close to 140 more spaces will disappear while construction takes place.However, it was pointed out by council general manager Leanne Barnes, this is private property not a public car park and “anyone using it does so at their own risk”.

With future development proposals also on the drawing board from the bowling club and on the former library site, the Bega Valley Shire Council has been investigating short-term solutions, even though it said it has fulfilled any obligation to the town’s current needs.

There was a suggestion the council pre-empt any development of the library site by demolishing the current structure, levelling it and creating a car park while awaiting a DA proposal, but this was thought to be too expensive.

Council staff said an estimated $150,000 price tag could significantly increase through known issues with the site, including asbestos and an indoor swimming pool underneath the main building

Mitchell Nadin from theMerimbula Chamber of Commerce said not enough has been done by council on planning.

“Parkingin Beach St to visit the post office is not a solution,” Mr Nadin said.

“Ifparkingis too dispersed we will have a problem attracting people to town.

“This issue is pivotal. There is an accessibility problem.”

“A detailed plan – something the Chamber of Commerce has long argued for –would also give locals faith and confidence in the future of their area and increase investment in the town.”

For solutions in the short-term, the council said itwill erect improved directional signage around town, while alsocreatingadditional spaces on its site in Main St.

It also hoped to work collaboratively with the Chamber to identify and access suitable overflow parking options outside the CBD, with BerramboolOval the most likely target.

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