April 17, 2021

Outside entities have guidelines to follow when using county parking lot

Supervisors want requests to go through county auditor’s office

Recreational or business use of the county parking lot southwest of the courthouse is limited to those who reserve the space ahead of time through the Jasper County Auditor’s Office and provide proof of liability insurance, the board of supervisors decided Tuesday.

The parking lot — located in the 100 block of West Second Street South in Newton — is typically reserved for county employees.

In the event a community activity or food truck wanted to operate on the premises outside business hours in past years, Jasper County Supervisor Brandon Talsma said those outside entities would often ask the board or county auditor directly for permission. Sometimes this creates confusion.

“There’s not much uniformity. It seems to be an issue every single year when it starts warming up, so I just think we just need to decide once and for all whether we’re going to allow it or not. If we are, OK,” Talsma said, noting a policy would establish the auditor’s office as the point of contact moving forward.

Fellow supervisors Doug Cupples and Denny Carpenter agreed a policy of this kind would be beneficial. Talsma clarified he doesn’t have a problem having people use the county’s parking lots or courthouse lawn for activities so long as they’re not causing damage to it or altering it in any way.

In the past, local organizations have requested permission to use the courthouse itself or the lawn as a host for events. County personnel would often place the request on the agenda with a specific timeframe attached. The board of supervisors would then vote to approve the request.

The county will still be liable for the space regardless of who has permission to use the parking lot. Dennis Simon, human resources director of Jasper County, recommended the county draft a standard responsibility agreement and require independent contractors to provide a certification of insurance.

Talsma said outside entities could fill out a simplified form that would explain what they plan on using the parking lot for. Jasper County Auditor Dennis Parrott said when larger contractors are hired for projects the county is provided with their insurance certificates.

All requests to use the county lot are likely to be vetted through the maintenance director, Adam Sparks. Parrott told Sparks the auditor’s office will notify him any time someone wants to use the property. If Sparks has an issue with the request, Parrott said it would be addressed.

“It doesn’t have to be overly complicated,” Parrott said.

Contact Christopher Braunschweig at 641-792-3121 ext. 6560 or cbraunschweig@newtondailynews.com

Christopher Braunschweig

Reporter with a strong penchant for community journalism.