Square parking change opens spots and eyes
It’s high noon on Tuesday, and from high atop the courthouse square in Greencastle, the bird’s-eye view of the parking area is noticeably different.
Where for decades you’d feast your eyes upon nothing but cars and pickups tucked into each and every available parking space within a stone’s throw of the courthouse, that no longer appears the case.
Against the north-side storefronts, two open spots are available, while in the inner circle on the north side of the courthouse, at least five empty spaces await diners, shoppers or those doing business at the courthouse.
The change has evolved since the Greencastle Board of Works finalized a city-county parking agreement late last month that gives the City of Greencastle enforcement powers over all parking spaces on the courthouse square and adjoining areas that are subject to a two-hour limit. The Putnam County Board of Commissioners had previously approved the interlocal agreement in a unanimous Jan. 2 vote by Rick Woodall, David Berry and Don Walton.
Prior to that agreement, the city had no legal means to enforce parking regulations on the inner portion of courthouse square due to county property extending approximately two-thirds of the way into each of the spaces immediately adjacent to the courthouse.
The pleasant change that’s evolved hasn’t been lost on the Greencastle City Council.
Council member Stacie Langdon, who works downtown herself, expressed thanks to Mayor Bill Dory, City Attorney Laurie Hardwick and county officials for working together on the parking issue.
“It’s been an issue for years,” Langdon noted, “and it’s amazing the way things have opened up.
“I want to encourage folks who want to go have lunch downtown, who want to go shopping, you should find parking on the square,” she said.
Citing efforts in recent years to revitalize the historic downtown district, the agreement calls easily accessible parking “an integral part of successfully drawing patrons and businesses to the downtown.”
Langdon said she has been monitoring the parking change from her workplace.
“I’ve periodically been walking out the front door where I work and checking,” she said, “and it’s been wonderful.”
County employees are to be commended as well, she said, noting that courthouse workers and officeholders “have been parking in the city lots and they‘ve been walking and doing their part.”
“It’s a problem that’s been rectified,” Langdon said. “I think it’s great.”
The Second Ward city councilor said she recently spoke with Commissioner David Berry, “and he’s just thrilled.”
Mayor Dory stressed that the real credit goes to City Attorney Hardwick, the county commissioners and County Attorney Jim Ensley for putting the agreement in place.
“I really appreciate that we have commissioners who are open and wanted to help solve the problem,” Hardwick responded. “It’s really great.”
“It’ just a win-win for everybody,” she assured. “It’s just great that it’s finally been taken care of.”
But with more people now walking in and around the courthouse square to get to and from work, Langdon had another request.
“Now that they’re parking and walking, a couple of county employees mentioned,” she added, how important it is that the sidewalks be kept clear of ice and snow.
“They’re hiking up the hills and walking to work, and we sure don’t want anybody slipping and falling,” the councilor urged.
Mayor Dory agreed, adding, “We’ll work with Main Street (Greencastle), maybe they can help us get the word out to downtown property owners.”