County-owned property to be green space

By Xiomara Levsen, The JOURNAL


The county-owned property at 302 West Main Street in Washington won?t become a parking lot but a green space instead.

This was decided after discussion was held at the supervisors meeting Tuesday morning.

Washington County engineer Jacob Thorius said that at the beginning of February the supervisors discussed getting bids to have gravel put down on the lot, so it could be used for parking.

?We started looking at it more and in conversations with the city and because of how it?s zoned it can?t be a gravel parking lot,? Thorius said. ?It can be a parking lot but you have to pave it and again our estimates are a strong $50,000.?

Supervisor Jack Seward Jr. asked Thorius if landscaping would also be required. Thorius said yes to keep it looking nice, especially since it?s in more of a residential area.

?Again, our rough estimates are $50,000, whether you want concrete or asphalt,? he added. ?There?s a variety of work that needs to be done and you?re going to get 15, maybe 20 [parking] stalls out of it depending on how it actually lays out. In my opinion that?s pretty expensive for some parking, especially when I think you gentlemen aren?t totally certain what you want in the long range with that lot over there.?

There has been discussion about buying additional lots and maybe building an administration building in the future, he added. He recommended the county just turn it into a grassy area for now.

?We do need to address the sidewalks,? Thorius added. ?The one that was removed needs to be put back and the one on the east side probably needs to be replaced. It was damaged pretty well.?

Thorius also recommended the supervisors consider getting a small group of people together to start looking at the needs of the buildings they have and start some long-term planning.

?I?m going to use communications as my example,? Thorius said. ?I know it?s not [under] your control. It was a lot of your predecessors, but I think for me as a taxpayer anyway I would rather have a small increase in my taxes and know that money is getting set aside to address infrastructure issues ? building issues and not all of a sudden, ?Boom, we?re at day zero and we need to do something.? Now we have a huge increase in taxes to cover some of those expenses and I think by doing some long-range planning and looking out there at some needs, you guys can do some forecasting on what may or may not happen.?

Board chairman Abe Miller said he agreed with Thorius about not looking any further into paving that lot for parking because there are other needs the county should address first.

?The only other thing I would like us to consider is having a fence [installed],? Miller added. ?I see we?ve already got some mud tracks over there and they?re off to the east side of the driveway, I believe.?

Thorius said this was up to the supervisors on whether or not they wanted a fence there. Personally, he didn?t think they needed it.

?Would the option of putting up a temporary snow fence until the grass gets established be a possibility?? Seward asked Thorius.

Thorius said yes, that would give the grass a chance to grow.

If the supervisors wanted a permanent fence installed they would have to pay to have the property surveyed with a licensed surveyor, he added.

?I just think we?re going to have issues with people driving on that grass,? Miller said. ?If there?s no ruts, that would be fine, but if there?s going to be rain and people pulling in there ? there?s going to be problems I think.?

Russ Zickefoose, a person at the meeting, asked the supervisors if the county really needed to hold onto that property.

?What good is it going to do us just to sit there for years and we don?t even know what we?re going to do with it?? Zickefoose asked. ?Why can?t we just sell and let it go at that??

The supervisors didn?t respond to his question.

Thorius said before he did anything else he would like clarification from the supervisors on what they wanted him to do.

Supervisor Stan Stoops said for now putting up a temporary fence would be fine and he would like the minimal amount of money to be spent on the property. For now, he didn?t see any reason to put up a permanent fence.

Miller said if there is a problem in the future they can revisit the situation.

?And maybe first it?s a conversation with the neighbor and then if that can?t resolve it then maybe it be more a permanent structure,? Thorius said. ?I think for right now not knowing the long-range [plans] for it the minimal expense you can do is probably the right way to go ? that?s my opinion.?

?Or we could sell it and put the money in the bank,? Miller said.

?Or you could sell it and put the money in the bank and then you have to answer questions about why we bought it,? Thorius said.

?Exactly,? Miller said.

The supervisors unanimously approved having the property at 302 West Mains Street in Washington a green space, installing a temporary fence on the west side until the grass is established and replacing the sidewalk on the south side and repairing the sidewalk on the east side.