Reader wants to talk
about courthouse lot
Sunday, March 16, 2014 10:00 PM
Some folks may recall back about 14 years ago our Montgomery County Council and Commissioners decided it would be to your and my advantage if all the County offices not located Downtown were consolidated in a single building closer to the Main Courthouse. Toward that end the County spent hundreds of thousands of our dollars buying up all the land and buildings in that quarter-block on the southeast corner of Market and Washington Streets, thus taking all that prime property off the tax rolls.
Very soon after that expenditure it was deemed funding for a "Courthouse Annex" would be hard to come by. So another decision was made to "temporarily" use that land for a Courthouse parking lot. Thus several more thousands of our dollars were spent to up-root the trees, tear down the buildings, fill in the basement cavities, level the land, spread a little gravel on it while it settled and dole-out most the spaces to Courthouse employees and a few more for us "visitors".
But then the City of Crawfordsville reminded the County Fathers there was an ordinance against gravel parking lots in the City limits, so another several thousands of our dollars were used to pave, stripe and paint numbers on that "temporary" parking lot.
Next came the decision that rather than continue to pay monthly rent for "temporary" County offices on South Boulevard and across from the old Culver Hospital, it would be more fiscally prudent to purchase and remodel those buildings, which of course took many more thousands of our tax dollars.
Now, if I understand the newspaper accounts correctly, $15,800 has already been spent on a "conceptual design" that recommends an additional $775,000 be spent on installing trees, bushes and grassy medians to make the place look better, a handicap ramp to meet ADA requirements plus fencing and a short wall for better security. That estimated final cost is bound to go up because it doesn't include other extras like mandatory engineering fees and such.
Other considerations include: In addition to the monetary costs the "conceptual design", if adopted as is, would eliminate 25 parking spaces for Courthouse employees who, thus evicted, would all day take up parking spaces now available to downtown customers, business people and "visitors". The Indiana Department of Transportation already has a plan to eliminate 3 more parking spaces there on Washington to better that corner and allow take down of the "no turn on red" sign. Also, in the spirit of co-operation, the Crawfordsville City Council has approved closing the Washington Street entrance to the parking lot thus allowing no use of the primary remaining Market Street entrance and exit while a train has the highway clogged up, which happens. And since that remaining exit onto Market Street would mandate an east-bound only turn, picture what you would do if you had to go north, south or west? (Remember Green Street is one-way north).
What it all seems to boil down to is this: We will be spending over 2 million dollars to supply Courthouse employees with free convenient parking spaces plus 6 for us "visitors". (i.e. "owners")
So I agree. The County Council and Commissioners had better take this plan "under advisement", especially since there are other alternatives to consider. Otherwise the County Fathers, or perhaps one day Mothers, who replace them may never build us the convenient Courthouse Annex for which that first million dollars was originally intended.