The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Local and State News

November 9, 2012

Squelching a Facebook rumor

ENID, Okla. — Plans to remodel the Garfield County Court House parking lot are in the earliest stages, and no vote or approval have been taken or made, county officials said Friday.

“Nothing has been through a meeting and nothing has been approved,” District 1 County Commissioner Marc Bolz said. “Nothing has been through a meeting, and nothing has become final.”

Concern spread Friday after a message on Facebook began circulating an unfounded rumor the courthouse lawn was going to be converted into a parking lot. The message urged county residents upset with the plan to contact commissioners.

Bolz said a vote on the proposal has not yet been scheduled or placed on any meeting agendas. The drawings for the proposal were obtained by the county Friday.

Garfield County Assessor Wade Patterson echoed Bolz’ comments, also stating no plans had been finalized.

“We have not approved anything yet,” Patterson said, noting the county is considering recommendations made by the Department of Homeland Security.

About four years ago, a safety study was conducted for the courthouse by Homeland Security, Patterson said. While they were seated at a table in the commissioner’s meeting room, a large truck pulled up and parked along the building.

“We knew we needed to do something,” Patterson said. “Our parking lot has been caving in. We knew we needed to replace it, we just didn’t have the money to do it.”

He said there also are issues with Americans with Disabilities Act compliance for the current parking lot.

“The plan we’re looking at, we won’t add any square footage to the parking lot,” Patterson said. “We have been studying this concept for at least eight years.”

Current construction costs are at all-time lows, and Patterson said that was another reason the plan was being considered.

“Everything is just in the planning stages. We don’t know what it’s going to cost. It might come back to be too much,” Patterson said. “We’re not going to borrow money and go into debt to do it.”

He said interior sidewalks at the courthouse also will be redone to meet ADA compliance.

“We’ll save all the history we can,” Patterson said, noting the WPA stamps on the current sidewalk will be saved. “We want it to look nice.”

The proposed plan shows the current parking lot arcing north of the courthouse clock tower, away from the edge of the building where the current parking lot is located.

“We’re kind of relocating the parking lot,” Patterson said. “We’re not losing the courthouse lawn. We’re trying to make it aesthetically pleasing.”

The county also will relinquish parking spots on the south side of the building along Broadway, returning them to the city of Enid for public parking. Those spots currently are reserved for courthouse personnel and law enforcement.

Moving the lot likely will mean the loss of two trees on the north lawn.

Patterson said there are plans to replace both elms with Shumard oaks. One of the trees already suffers from Dutch elm disease and might have to be removed anyway, he said.

Those with questions about the plan can email Patterson at lwade@garfieldcountyemail.com.

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