Leavenworth county commissioners are looking at adding an entrance to the design of a new parking lot. And they want to know if the city of Leavenworth would be willing to pay for it.
That was a question raised Thursday when the county commissioners met with Leavenworth Police Chief Pat Kitchens.
The county government is having a parking lot built at the site of the old Leavenworth County Jail, which recently was demolished.
The parking lot will be located next to the Justice Center, which houses the Leavenworth Police Department, Leavenworth County Sheriff's Office, Leavenworth County District Court and other entities.
Kitchens is requesting some of the spaces for the new lot be allocated for Leavenworth Police Department use.
The new parking lot will be located off of Third Street. But John Forslund, the county's director of buildings and grounds, said the current design for the lot would have vehicles accessing it from Second Street. He said this access point would take drivers through a meandering route before reaching the new lot.
An alternative would be making an existing one-way drive that intersects with Third Street available for two-way traffic. This would allow drivers to turn from Third Street onto the drive and then into the new lot. But Forslund said the drive is too narrow for two-way traffic.
A third option would be to change the design of the lot to allow for an entrance directly off of Third Street. Forslund said it's estimated that such a change could increase the cost by more than $15,000. This option also would result in the loss of three parking spaces.
Sheriff Andy Dedeke, who also attended Thursday's meeting, said he believes this is the best option.
Kitchens said he had just learned of the idea of a newly designed Third Street entrance and reserved the right to think about it.
The new parking lot currently is designed to have 38 spaces, two of which will be handicapped spaces.
Kitchens said the Police Department previously used the area around the old jail for parking.
"I would at least like these spaces allocated to us," he said.
Kitchens said the Police Department still has use of nine parking spaces on the north side of the Justice Center. And he's requesting that 16 spaces from the new lot be set aside for the Police Department.
County Commissioner Clyde Graeber said the new parking lot always has been talked about as being a public parking area. He said he's not sure he can support the number of spaces the police chief is requesting.
"That's the way we've had it for 13 years," Kitchens said.
Page 2 of 2 - Commission Chairman Bob Holland said he believes the county was responsible for tearing down the old jail. But he said building a parking lot for the Leavenworth Police Department out of the county's budget should be rethought.
"I don't think we should do this alone," Holland said.
Commissioner Dennis Bixby said a good starting point for the city would be paying the additional cost for a Third Street entrance.
Kitchens said he would need to take this issue to the Leavenworth City Commission.
Work already has started on the lot, and Forslund said he would need to know something within the next two weeks.
Graeber suggested that County Administrator Pat Hurley also contact Leavenworth City Manager Scott Miller.
Kitchens said the city manager is out of town this week.
"I'll try to talk to Scott when he gets back," Hurley said.
Hurley asked the county commissioners what they want to do in regard to the Third Street entrance if the city government doesn't pay for it.
Bixby said it will be at the discretion of the county commissioners as to whether they continue to consider the matter.
Regardless of what the City Commission does, Kitchens asked if the Police Department will be asked to pay for parking spaces it's had for 13 years.
Bixby said the county won't set up parking meters. He said the county will accommodate the Police Department as best it can.
"There are no guarantees," he said.
Hurley asked the county commissioners whether the city should pay for the cost of signs to mark spaces in the new lot as "reserved."
Kitchens said he believes the city has paid for this expense in the past.
Written into a 1999 county and city agreement for the operation of the Justice Center is a stipulation that the county "provide adequate secured parking spaces for the Leavenworth Police Department vehicle fleet and reasonable parking space for city employees."
The agreement also indicates that the city had paid the cost of 13 parking spaces to be used exclusively for the Leavenworth Police Department on the north side of the Justice Center and adjacent to the building.
Kitchens said he will try to have the issue brought before Leavenworth city commissioners during a meeting Tuesday night.