Lake City Bank – the biggest employer in downtown Warsaw – will heavily renovate its parking lot to the east of offices on Center Street, with one company representative promising it will resemble a park with parking.
Details of the plan came after City Council approved plans Monday for an alley vacation request from the bank for two alleys that intersect in the block bounded by Center and Market streets and Indiana and High streets.
The bank originally had sought to close off some of the alley access, but chose a new plan after some council members expressed concern about access for First United Methodist Church, which occupies the southwest corner of the block.
On Monday, Lake City announced it agreed to terms with the church for an easement agreement involving the alleys. As part of the plan, the bank will keep the alleys open, make improvements and maintain the alleys.
The bank plans to spend about $440,000 to renovate the parking lot.
The bank is expected to pick up an additional 13 parking spaces as a result.
The city will benefit from no longer having to maintain the alleys.
Bank President David Findlay, who addressed the council, described the future parking lot as “a park with parking spaces,” and said he believed it will enhance the downtown.
Findlay underscored the bank’s footprint in the downtown and its commitment to the city with several statistics.
The bank has offices in seven downtown buildings, including six the company owns, and has seen renovations to many of its downtown properties in recent years.
LCB employs about 260 people in Warsaw, including about 235 who work downtown.
By the time the parking lot is completed, the bank estimates it will have invested about $6.4 million in recent years in downtown improvements.
“That’s our shareholders’ money that we take and invest in this community because it’s the right thing to do for the bank, it’s the right thing to do for our employees and it’s the right thing to do for Warsaw,” Findlay said.
He also pointed out the bank paid more than $300,000 in local and payroll taxes in 2017.
“We don’t get to talk about what the bank does in this community nearly as much as we probably should. We just put our head down, run the bank, do the right thing,” he said.
The church has been a client with the bank for more than 50 years and the bank regularly shares its parking area with the church and provides a dedicated handicapped parking area for church goers.
Council voted unanimously to support the plan.
In other matters, council approved requests from the administration to reset two tax rates for the Cumulative Capital Development Fund and the Warsaw Wayne Fire Territory Equipment Replacement Fund.
The action gives the city the ability to raise the rates to the established maximum and will not affect this year’s tax rate, according to Mayor Joe Thallemer.
The cum cap rate currently stands at $.0402 per $100 of assessed valuation. The maximum is $.0500.
The fire equipment fund rate sits at $0.0307 and the maximum is $0.0333.
Councilman Ron Shoemaker initially opposed the plan in a preliminary vote earlier this month, but joined others in a unanimous vote of support Monday night for both rates.
The action gives council the opportunity to actually raise the rates up to the maximum when it meets later this year during budget sessions for the following year.
Council also approved plans to spend $383,866 over the next three years to pay for a new communications system that will allow departments to communicate together on digital radios during emergencies and daily tasks.
Much of the money will come from various departments that will benefit from the upgrades.
The city’s board of works agreed to the plan Friday.