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Committee endorses cheaper parking ramp

Abruptly changing course, a Detroit Lakes-Becker County committee on Monday dropped plans for a $2.5 million parking garage and instead endorsed a $1.5 million parking ramp in the same location.

If approved by the city council and county board, the two-level ramp will be built at a city-owned parking lot behind the Courthouse Annex next to the Washington Square Mall.

The ramp will have 125 to 135 parking spaces and will follow the "footprint" of the existing parking lot as it slopes downhill. The ramp will consist of another level on pillars, with an entryway and exit on the north side from the mall parking lot, and another on the lower level.

It will be designed to hold a third level if more parking is needed later, according to County Administrator Brian Berg.

As originally proposed, the parking garage would have had 100 parking spots. It would have required major excavation work and resulted in two levels, one that could be reached from the mall area and one that could be accessed from the lower parking lot. A motorist would have had to drive outside of the structure of get to another level.

Most of the $1 million cost difference comes from not having to do excavation work, Berg said. Also, an elevator will likely not be required under the new plan, he said.

The county will pay the full $1.5 million cost of the ramp, which is the amount budgeted for parking to go with the new courthouse addition.

The city-county committee unanimously endorsed the new proposal, as submitted by Lightowler Johnson Associates.