parking

A multi-level parking garage in downtown Gallatin may not be built behind the Gallatin Public Library as originally planned. FILE

Sumner County officials are looking at possible alternative locations for a planned parking garage in downtown Gallatin after talks to acquire property necessary for the project stalled in recent weeks.

County leaders would like to build the project directly behind the Gallatin Public Library near the intersection South Water Avenue and East Smith Street, according to Sumner County Commissioner Leslie Schell, who is also chair of the county’s general operations committee. 

However, three privately-owned properties would need to be acquired in order to make the project possible.

“We were just kind of getting to a point where we needed to finalize some things… and we just weren’t getting there,” Schell said about the negotiations. “At the end of the day, I don’t want any of those three property owners to look back and wish they hadn’t sold their property and I feel like there is still a little bit of hesitation with some of them, and that’s okay.

“So, we just decided that we were going to look at a couple other options and see what else was out there.”

While officials are looking at nearby properties in the downtown area that could be a potential alterative location for the parking garage, Schell declined to say which specific sites were being considered or if any property owners had been approached about their willingness to sell.

She added that officials involved with the project hope to have a location finalized by the fall and that the original site behind the library is “not 100 percent off the table.”

“It just has to do with working out the terms (of an agreement),” Shell said. “I’ve said all along that we wouldn’t use eminent domain to take that spot, and I have no desire to do that.

“I want everybody at the end of the day to look at that and be proud of the project that is there, and I feel like we just weren’t moving in that direction (with the previous property negations).”

Last year, Gallatin city leaders verbally agreed to partner with Sumner County to build the garage in downtown. The multi-level structure has previously been estimated to have approximability 450 parking spaces and would cost an estimated $9.5 million to build. However, specific details about the project and partnership have not yet been finalized. 

Depending on the location, Gallatin Mayor Paige Brown said the city’s involvement in the project could “potentially” change, even if the parking garage was built on the opposite side of East Smith Street.

“Our willingness to partner on that garage is about providing parking for downtown,” Brown said. “That is very, very key because we have to have a location that serves our downtown businesses.

“To me, the deal all along has been that if it serves our downtown business district, we would partner with them, but not it if doesn’t.”

The parking garage is expected to be built alongside a new county courthouse, which is planned at the corner of East Main Street and South Boyers Avenue next to First Baptist Church in Gallatin.

Both projects would be funded by an $86 million bond that county leaders anticipate issuing later this year.

Once construction begins, the new courthouse is expected to take approximately two years to complete, according to county leaders involved with the project. The parking garage is expected to take one year to construct. 

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