THE ISSUE: Crystal River Lions Club parking area at risk.

OUR OPINION: City, Lions need to work together to find a solution.

The Crystal River Lions find themselves in a tough situation as the vacant lot they have long used for parking and fundraising during special events has gone up for sale.

The property next to the Crystal River historic train depot that the Lions lease is a prime location in the booming historic district of downtown Crystal River; it’s going to take a creative solution to solve the dilemma the Lions face.

The Lions are asking the community to fund the purchase of the lot, however, City Manager Ken Frink says the property is too valuable to just be a parking lot used sporadically throughout the year.

That’s a fair point. The potential sale of the property would proposition the lot for redevelopment, and added business and amenities in the popular area.

However, the Lions have long been supporting their community and are at a point where they need to see that support given back to them — members of the Lions do noble and selfless work to aid many in Citrus year-round.

One thing is certain: There is not enough parking to support the activities at the historic train depot site. Groups and private individuals are able to rent out the property for weddings and other events, and without the vacant lot available for use, convenient parking is very slim in that area.

As the city heads into a new decade and expands the downtown with the town center, park improvements, new businesses and more, and grows east towards Turkey Oak Drive, adding additional parking will be a necessity.

The city and the Lions will have to work together to come up with a better parking solution moving forward.

If the community doesn’t come up with the $115,000 to buy the lot, then the Lions will have to creatively figure out a way to raise another $6,000-plus annually to make up for the loss in parking fees. For a club with limited membership, that is certainly a challenge.

The Crystal River Lions have been giving back to the Citrus County community for over 50 years. The owning company of the lot, RMX, is open to negotiation with the Lions to a 25-year financing plan with a $35,000 down payment and a five-year balloon loan. Those looking to donate to the Lions’ cause can contact treasurer Tonia Chandler at 352-697-0102. Consider giving back to the Lions Club this holiday season.

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