NORTH PORT — The city’s soon-to-open aquatic center will get a paved parking lot after all.

The City Commission on Tuesday voted 4-1 to approve the construction of a $498,146 paved lot to be constructed next to the center, which is slated to open next month.

Pete Emrich was the only member of the panel voting against the plan, saying he wasn’t convinced it was needed.

The parking lot was delayed last week when Vice Mayor Debbie McDowell questioned if the city needed to build a paved lot and said a crushed shell lot would serve the same use and save money.

However, city staff reported that if the paved lot were not built, plans for the $12 million aquatic center would have to be refiled and the opening might be pushed back into the fall. The commission approved the total plan for the aquatic center last year.

McDowell then said she would vote for the lot, “but I am disappointed we didn’t learn of our options before this. Now our backs are against the wall,” she said.

Mayor Chris Hanks said, “It’s time to do this. We will need this lot in six months and I fully support it.”

Commissioner Vanessa Carusone chided the panel, saying the delay would prove costly.

“We have to stop doing this to try to save money,” she said. “It just has to stop.”

In other action, the commission approved revisions to the city’s impact fees, allowing for fees to be deferred and providing for solutions to conflicts.

The panel also asked city staff to set up a workshop with developers, the chamber and city staff to review the impact fee structure in the city and devise ways to prioritize businesses needed in the city.

- This story was updated to correct the cost of the parking lot project. 


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