Courthouse parking lot sparks debate

March 6, 2019

Don’t expect to be able to park your car in the Platte County Courthouse’s lot much longer.

The lot, located just north of the downtown Columbus Fire Department, currently has two signs which read “Courthouse Employee Parking Only.” Soon, it will be restricted to just Platte County employees. This came about after District 2 Supervisor Jerry Micek brought to the attention of the Platte County Board of Supervisors an issue with employee parking during its Tuesday morning meeting.

Micek told the board that several county employees have been struggling with finding parking due to the recent snow activity. He said several state agencies have been using the courthouse parking lot, forcing county employees to park elsewhere. As chairman of the board’s Building and Grounds Committee, he said he has contacted these agencies informing them they could not park there.

“There’s plenty of parking available for these vans of the state to park on the railroad parking lot. They don’t need to be parking on (a) county parking lot - that’s my opinion,” Micek said. “They do not need to be using our parking stalls.”

Micek said he’s contacted Columbus City Administrator Tara Vasicek informing her that the same goes for city employees, as well. In order to enforce the parking policy, Micek suggested the board implement a vehicle tagging system where county employees would have parking passes on display in their vehicles in the form of tags or stickers.

All unauthorized vehicles in the lot would be subject to being towed at the owners’ expense. During the meeting, Platte County Sheriff Ed Wemhoff told the board that the county could contract a towing service which would consist of it paying for the vehicle to be towed, and then later be reimbursed.

Under the new proposal, parking in the lot would still be first come, first served for county employees since spots are limited. Micek said all other parties at the courthouse who are not county employees but still need to use the lot can appeal to the board to be given a special exemption and granted a parking pass.

All board members voted in favor of approving the new measure with the exception of District 5 Supervisor Robert Lloyd, who voted no on the motion. He said when the county bought the lot 15 years ago it was intended to be used by elected county officials and the entire community.

“The taxpayers of Platte County bought that lot. I think they all should be able to park there,” Lloyd said.

Micek disagreed, stating that the lot was intended to be used only by county employees at the courthouse. As for the new parking system, it would ideally be implemented within the next 60 days.

“It’s just not right. It’s our parking lot. It should be for our employees,” Micek said.

Eric Schucht is a reporter for The Columbus Telegram. Reach him via email at eric.schucht@lee.net.