FOLEY – Visitors to the Foley Event Center and the Sports Tourism Complex will have improved parking under plans approved by the City Council.

The projects include paving current parking sites and adding more spaces for vehicles.

The council voted to approve design work for the parking lots at the Event Center. David Thompson, Foley executive director of leisure services, said the first priority will be repaving the existing parking spaces.

“We’re trying to do it in phases where we’ll do the north parking lot and then the south parking lot,” Thompson said. “The north parking lot is in a little worse shape.”

He said the design work will also include planning additional parking spaces for the center.

“We are asking them to look at potentially adding some spaces as well for when we have large events,” Thompson said. “We had people parking on the grass last weekend. So we’re looking at potentially adding another 20 spaces on each side as we go through this process. This will actually do the design process for both of them.”

Thompson said that in the current plan, the north parking lot would be improved in the current fiscal year and work would start on the south lot next year.

Mayor Ralph Hellmich said the north lot is more in need of immediate repair.

“The northern one is one that most critically needs to be done,” Hellmich said. “They determined that neither one of them are to the point where there’s going to have to be additional base work done, but that one’s getting a little closer to potentially needing that. So we definitely know that we want to do the north side first and foremost.”

The council also approved paving and drainage improvements for the gravel parking lots at the Foley Sports Tourism Complex. Thompson said the current unpaved parking areas become muddy after heavy rains.

“Our last four soccer events have been met with rain, which created a mess,” Thompson said. “I would like to go ahead and do some design work for actually making those asphalt parking lots as we move forward to something for five years. We have not had actual asphalt in the parking lot. I think it’s something that needs to go with our fields.”

In the project, the two gravel parking lots will be paved and the drainage improved. The design also includes stormwater retention ponds and pipes needed to move an increased amount of water running off the additional asphalt.