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Dunedin will spend all of Deepwater Horizon settlement on parking

Business owners along Dunedin's Main Street have long complained about customers not being able to find parking spots.

After months of discussion, the city has reached a solution: Using all of the money received from oil giant BP to overhaul downtown parking.

The money — nearly $3 million — is compensation for the Deepwater Horizon spill in 2010.

Dunedin's city commission voted 3-2 Thursday in favor of using all available BP money toward parking. Commissioners Heather Gracy and John Tornga voted against the measure.

Dunedin approved a $3.9 million settlement offer from BP last July and received $2.9 million after fees. The city originally sought $8.8 million, citing a significant decline in tourism.

Officials fear development will decrease the number of downtown parking spaces, as many of Dunedin's new properties are on vacant lots currently used for overflow parking.

The city's plan includes adding paid parking meters, leasing parking lots and a public parking garage.

"The number one problem facing our city at this point is parking," city commissioner Bruce Livingston told the Times in September after a commission discussion about the BP settlement. "When you get a large contribution or windfall such as this, you want it to be a legacy application that will make a long-term difference to our citizens."

During September's meeting, commissioner John Tornga said he viewed the BP settlement as a legal remedy, not a windfall.