$300K carpool lot in Lake County continues to sit empty

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The Florida Department of Transportation spent nearly $300,000 building a parking lot for carpooling in Lake County, but the lot along U.S. 27 in Minneola is almost always deserted.

When FDOT opened the lot nearly two years ago, it said spaces were available on a first-come, first-served basis.

There are 100 spaces at the lot, which is designed as a meeting place for carpoolers.

Taxpayers paid $280,000 for the paving and lights and it was crowded the day city, county and FDOT officials cut the ribbon in January 2012, but that might have been the only day the lot got that much use, according to Channel 9's Berndt Petersen.

Petersen has been checking on activity at the lot of the last six months, and it appears to be drawing minimally.

On Friday, only a couple of cars were parked there. On Oct.8, there was a rusty trailer and two vehicles, but the rest of the lot was wide open, Petersen said.

On Aug. 23 and Sept. 13, there weren't any cars in the lot.

"Did this just turn out to be a waste of taxpayer money?" asked Petersen.

"We'll be the first to admit this lot has not gotten the traction we hoped it would," said Steve Olson of FDOT.

Olson said they had hoped the lot would be part of a public bus route to Orlando or Disney, but that hasn't panned out.

"We've got some work to do out in Minneola," said Olson.

FDOT owns this land and has no plans to sell it. Officials said they're hoping carpoolers will catch on and use it in the near future.