Portage, Columbia County mull fate of new parking lot | Regional news

An expansive parking lot may be created on West Conant Street on the site of the county’s vacant Annex, across from the under-renovation Columbia County Courthouse.

And, a dilapidated, dangerous underground parking structure next to the annex may be filled up with rubble and paved over, resulting in about 100 off-street parking spaces.

That’s what officials from Columbia County and the city of Portage are talking about. In all likelihood, that’s what’s going to happen, said Columbia County Corporation Counsel Joseph Ruf.

But negotiations are going on now, behind closed doors, over ownership and maintenance responsibilities for the prospective new lot.

A closed session on the issue was part of Thursday’s meeting of the County Board’s Ad Hoc Building Committee, and it was on the agenda for Thursday evening’s Portage Common Council meeting.

Aaron Jahncke, city engineer and public works director, said he discussed the parking proposal as part of his report at the Sept. 7 meeting of the city’s Municipal Services and Utilities Committee.

The Annex, 120 W. Conant St., was once the location for county officials such as the University of Wisconsin-Extension and Management Information Services, both of which were relocated in June to the new Administration Building, 112 E. Edgewater.

Plans called for the building to be razed, and its location turned into an open public parking lot, as part of the renovation of the courthouse, 400 DeWitt St., for court-related uses only. That renovation is going on now, and is expected to be completed in late May or early June.

The county acquired and razed three other buildings on the north side of West Conant Street, with plans to turn those sites into parking lots, too. Those lots, Ruf said, would be mostly for courthouse employees, and at least one of them would be secured with a locked gate,…

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