Minden garage gets nod from Commissioners

Douglas County commissioners have ordered their staff to move ahead with plans to build a two-level parking garage to serve downtown Minden, at Thursday's regular commissioners' meeting.

The $4.3 million project will be financed through revenue-supported bonds already in place, as well as Douglas County's construction reserves. The bonds would cover an estimated $3.2 million and construction reserves, the $1.1 million balance, according to a report on Douglas County's capitol improvement program.

Located behind the Minden Inn on the corner of Fourth Street and Mono Avenue, the structure will provide more than 200 parking spaces for Douglas County employees and the public, as well as overflow parking for downtown Minden businesses and special events at Minden Park.

The commitment has been made to the town of Minden and the parking garage needs to be a priority, said Commissioner Kelly Kite.

"The project was approved a couple of years ago. The bonds are sold and right now, Douglas County is the biggest violator of its own parking ordinance," he said. "We should build it while we can afford it. The longer we wait, the more expensive it will be."

A request for architectural services can be agendized for next month's regular meeting and the project could be ready to go to bid in about four months, said Community Development Director Mitch Dion.

Commissioners also prioritized an expansion for Douglas County's jail and a new fire station for north Douglas County.

The jail will add 32 cells and two day rooms to the existing facility. Needs for other aspects of law-enforcement, including the sheriff, district attorney, district and justice courts and juvenile services are also being considered in this project.

County Manager Dan Holler said work is being done on the jail project but at the same time, the building is being evaluated to see if it will accommodate the expanded facilities.

If not, a new site may have to be considered, he said.

"Jails are expensive and not easily converted," said Michael Brown, assistant administrative services director. "We don't know what the jail expansion will cost and we don't have the dedicated funding."

Sheriff Ron Pierini and other law enforcement professionals are advocating passage of the .5 percent sales tax, to be put before the voters in November. The tax would finance these facilities, in addition to deputies and additional personnel for Douglas County's criminal justice system.

A site hasn't been chosen yet for the third priority, a fire station in north Douglas County. In addition to office space, a training room, kitchen and storage, the building will house vehicles and living quarters for both firefighters and emergency personnel.

Property taxes and revenue from Douglas County's redevelopment agency will be used to fund the project, according to information in Douglas County's five-year capital improvements program.

A 151-page document, the capital improvements program outlines 94 projects totalling an estimated $108 million and is a planning tool that links the county's physical development planning with fiscal planning.

The plan, which addresses every type of project from infrastructure to erosion, was approved by commissioners Thursday.

Susie Vasquez can be reached at svasquez@recordcourier.com or 782-5121, ext. 211.


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