Lemhi County Citizen Journalism

Leslie Shumate's picture


A motion to proceed researching a proposal for the city to buy the parking lot which runs behind Main Street stores from Shoup Street to Rags and Wags passed the council with one negative vote.

Councilor Jim Baker introduced the proposal which came from the Havens Trust. He said the lot facilitates parking space for 60 vehicles and he feels the purchase would be a good investment for the city since the land will continue to increase in value. Baker said city ownership would assure the parking availability will remain which in turn would keep the businesses where they are. 

Councilor Neal James agreed the purchase is a good plan even though no rent can be charged for the spaces since there is no way to set boundaries as to which businesses use the lot. He made a motion to engage in negotiation with the owners. 

Councilor Ken Hill expressed his feeling that maintaining public parking is very important and Councilor Robin Phillips said it is important for the city to provide free parking so that businesses are not tempted to move out of downtown.

Councilor Fred Waidely pointed out that city ownership of that amount of land will take a large chunk off the tax rolls and create a door to liability issues. He said the large area needs to be resurfaced, re-lined and then continuously maintained year round. Waidely added that in this size community residents can walk to any place in town. He said he is adamantly against the city going into the parking lot business. 

City Public Works Supervisor Harry Shanafelt was called on to estimate the cost of repairing and maintaining the lot. He said that first, the lot’s surface would have to be removed then replaced with at least 1500 yards of fill and the storm drain system would have to be upgraded. Of the 175 feet of sidewalk, which runs parallel to the lot, Shanafelt said 120 feet need to be replaced. He said to replace the pavement alone would run $57,000 and he estimated the cost of the entire project would be around $180,000 followed by yearly snow removal costs and maintenance. He said the overall repair cost would be twice the approximate $90,000 being asked for the lot. 

James commented that snow removal can be contracted and his motion for the city to engage in negotiations passed with five in favor and one, Waidely, opposed.

During the evening’s closing Public Comment opportunity, Havens Trust representative, Joe Proksch, provided some history on the property in question. He said his wife’s family bought the parcel in the 1950’s when it was occupied by houses. Fourteen adjoining businesses are now using it plus four adjacent businesses. Family members are getting older and Proksch said the decision has been made to sell the property. As far as the need for sidewalk repair he said repairs were made to the entire length of sidewalk and curbing and then, heavy equipment was driven over it during a street repair project.

Given the problem of unknown usage and lack of boundaries Proksch said he thinks it would be good if the city bought the lot. He thanked the councilors for their service and said that he will support whatever the council decides to do.

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