Columbia City Council is considering a vote this month to fund $54,580 to provide design and construction services to its downtown parking lot.
The parking garage, located at the corner of North Main Street and West 6th Street, was first built in 1989 and began to show signs of deterioration, prompting a study to undertake preliminary work for its repairs.
The contract, which would be awarded to Morrison Engineering, would assess the current condition of the garage, study costs and provide recommendations for extending its life.
Proposed repairs could include things like replacing the building’s brick veneer, water drainage system, electric light fixtures, and waterproofing the Columbia Police Department’s party wall.
City officials also questioned the feasibility of expanding the garage.
Mayor Chaz Molder, along with City Engineer Glen Harper, added that the study should provide enough guidance to not only know how to maintain the structure as it stands today, but also indicators as to whether any additions could be done in the future, like rooftop parking.
But these decisions should be made after the initial study and construction are complete.
“The first must be done,” Harper said. “The second is an option to consider later, and they don’t overlap. So if we’re going to do the second, we have to do the first, whatever. The first will tell us if we can add to the structure, and you can all make that decision.”
Some council members, such as Vice Mayor Christa Martin and Ward 3 Councilor Tony Greene, questioned whether spending the money would be justified or if some of the work could be done in-house with city staff. . Molder later questioned the same.
“If that parking lot only has a lifespan of five to seven years left, we may not want to invest,” Molder said. “I understand he won’t tell us whether or not we can add a parking deck, but will he at least give us enough information that the expense we’re talking about is at least justified?”
Jonathan Morrison of Morrison Engineering replied that he “hopes so”.
“I have a specialized concrete engineer that I will bring into my team so that I can assess, visually, what is there without having to do extensive calculations,” he said.
No vote was taken Thursday to pass the $54,580 study, but will appear as part of council’s consent agenda at its regular meeting, which will be held at City Hall from 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 10.