After several months of study and discussion, the Utah County Commission has decided to establish a secured parking area for state officials and 4th District judges.
County Commissioner Brent Morris, however, voted against the parking area. He said secured parking on the bottom floor of the new Utah County Regional Government Center terrace makes little sense."There's no doubt that it's going to impede traffic flow," he said, calling the cost of securing the area a waste of taxpayers' money. "It just doesn't make sense."
For years judges have parked in designated stalls just east of the courthouse, and they can continue to do so, Morris said. He received some public support from Edgemont resident Harold C. Johnson.
"I object to certain individuals thinking they know all about everything," while taxpayers get stuck picking up the tab, he said. "I'm in favor of what Commissioner Morris says. They can park like they always parked."
It will cost $5,300 to secure the area, which will take up the east half of the parking terrace's bottom floor, said Jack Quintana, assistant director of the state Department of Administrative Services. Officials plan to cordon the area with fencing and limit vehicle access to the east side.
Had the state been involved in the terrace's design, the secured area would have been built as part of original construction, Quintana said.
Gordon Bisseger, deputy state court administrator, said judges nationwide are facing increased violence and threats. Secured parking will help alleviate the problem, he said.
Secured parking also is expected to lessen the risk of public exposure to prisoners and potential parolees who must appear at the Adult Probation and Parole offices in the state building.
"I believe this is the minimum that we need," said Sgt. Ron Fernstedt, Utah County sheriff's sergeant in charge of court and county facilities security. Fernstedt said he prefers seeing the parking terrace's entire bottom floor turned into secured parking, which eventually may happen anyway to accommodate the increasing number of vehicles that need to be secured.
Besides, he added, the bottom floor isn't that heavily used.
Commission Chairman Malcolm Beck said that once motorists become aware of the secured area, traffic won't be impeded. The entire bottom floor of the parking terrace now is open for parking to motorists who have business at the court, county or state buildings.