Four of the five Carroll County Supervisors, a representative from the architectural and design firm, Shive-Hattery as well as the County Sheriff, Ken Pingrey, and County Attorney, John Werden, were in attendance at Monday night’s City Council meeting for a discussion on ordinance changes and requests for modifications to the new county jail. The more than one-hour conversation centered mostly around the topics of the entry and exit doors for the lower-level parking garage off of Main Street and the recommendation from the city’s traffic study by Bolton & Menck for the removal of four parking spaces on the east side of Main for safety purposes. City Manager, Mike Pogge-Weaver, explained that the current plan allows only about six and a half feet of set-back between the sidewalk and the garage doors and it would require either the widening of the sidewalk into the city’s easement or a cantilevering of the doors that would recess them into the building to provide another estimated six feet. This, of course, would come at a cost to the county. Council woman, Carolyn Siemann, said she has heard from residents who are unhappy with the thought of losing parking. She also said the engineers should be able to make modifications to the current plan to address their concerns by either changing it to one door, having the setback but only one drive or using the south side of the building for one door.
Supervisors, Rich Ruggles, Gene Meiners and Neil Bock, told Siemann the idea of a door on the south side was not a new one, and the option had already been explored. It was not, however, the best solution to allow for both parking and a clear exit and entrance into the secured Sally port inside the garage for the safe transfer of prisoners and to allow space for an ambulance to be able to maneuver within the structure. Siemann remained fixated on a point that the design did not match what was presented in the referendum, despite the fact that these renderings are typically conceptual in nature. Bock added many of the structural changes are to accommodate requests from the city and the supervisors were a bit disconcerted with the lack of communication on this matter.
Ruggles pointed out that the county has been a good neighbor to the downtown district, offering free parking in all county-owned lots and now they are going to have to take some of it away. There will remain, however, the option for patrons to still park in the north lot at the courthouse. Meiners agreed that what is being presented is the work of many meetings with city staff and they have included an alternate in the bid for the recessed door concept. Supervisor, Stephanie Hausman, reminded Siemann that she would never put a dollar amount on a life and/or the safety of the pedestrians outside the courthouse and she is pleased the city and county are trying to work this out together, but she is disappointed the conversation did not happen before the project went out to bid.
Bock said he is happy they were coming at this from a safety perspective, but thought they were overplaying the advantages of the cantilever system, in his opinion. Councilman Clay Haley made a motion to forego the four parking spaces on Main Street in the name of safety and to ask for both doors to be recessed. The motion passed on a vote of four in favor, and one against. Mike Kots was the sole no vote, preferring to have only the north door with the cantilever option. Council woman Misty Boes was not present at the meeting. Full audio of this complex discussion can be found below.