By Ken de la Bastide
With an agreement in place with the city of Kokomo for parking spaces in a proposed downtown garage, the Howard County Commissioners have terminated a purchase agreement to acquire property at the corner of Main and Superior streets.
The commissioners voted Thursday to terminate the agreement to purchase the 1.7 acre property which contained 120 parking spaces and an 18,000 square foot building.
The commissioners were considering paying $850,000 over the next three years. With the termination of the agreement, the only cost to county taxpayers was $7,000 for two appraisals of the property.
The average of the two appraisals was $951,000.
Commissioner Paul Wyman said when the county made the offer to purchase in October it was an excellent decision given the options.
He said the city offered the county 80 parking spaces in the proposed parking garage for 30 years in exchange for a $500,000 contribution to the planned $15 million YMCA project to build a new facility on the former Button Motors property.
Wyman said the county showed flexibility by looking at the total cost and determined what is best for taxpayers.
“The initial action stemmed mainly on the parking situation,” Tyler Moore, president of the Board of Commissioners, said. “The building was icing on the cake and allowed us to address spacing needs.”
Moore said there were other opportunities for the use of the building at the Main Street location.
Richard Miller, president of the Howard County Council said economically the decision not to purchase the property was the least costly option.
“Other considerations may not have been completed,” he said. “That facility would have been well received.”
Miller said the cost to the county for the 80 parking spaces in the parking garage for 30 years was reduced from an initial amount of $1.7 million for one floor to $500,000.
“That money goes to a worthy project,” he said.
A day after the Kokomo Board of Public Works & Safety approved the parking agreement with the county, the commissioners endorsed the pact.
It provides the county with assigned spots for 80 employees in the new parking garage for 30 years and when construct starts on the garage the parking places will be located on the former Button Motors property at no cost to the county.
The free parking spaces for county employees is contingent on the $500,000 donation to the YMCA project over the next five years.
Wyman said terms of the agreement specify if the county doesn’t contribute the $500,000 the agreement becomes null and void.
“I’m confident we will have parking spaces for 30 years,” he said.
Wyman called the decision a win for the city, county and taxpayers.