County discusses options for 'embarrassing' gravel parking lot in downtown Worthington

“Since it’s our lot, I think we need to do something stable.”

Overflow parking lot
Nobles County's gravel parking lot is located at the intersection of Fourth Avenue and Ninth Street in downtown Worthington.
Tim Middagh/The Globe

WORTHINGTON — Nobles County owns the only gravel parking lot in downtown Worthington, and that’s not likely to change based on discussions during a work session among county commissioners on Wednesday.

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Administrator Bruce Heitkamp said the gravel lot, used as overflow parking for employees of the Nobles County Government Center, was in rough shape following snowmelt and spring thaw in recent weeks. He asked commissioners if they would be interested in firming up the lot by either bringing in new material or paving a portion of the lot and creating a rain garden to stay within the county’s limitations on impervious surfaces.

To improve or not to improve?
Nobles County's overflow parking gravel lot, at the intersection of Fourth Avenue and Ninth Street in downtown Worthington, is a sloppy mess following snowmelt and overnight rains Friday morning, March 31, 2023.
Tim Middagh/The Globe

“The quickest, dirtiest thing to do is crushed concrete and you maintain it, but probably the nicest thing is to pour a concrete parking lot — that’s definitely the Cadillac,” said Public Works Director Aaron Holmbeck. He said a concrete lot, if built right, would function well for more than 40 years with low maintenance. An asphalt lot would also be a possibility, though he said he wouldn’t recommend it.

“The other way is to build a decent base, use ballast rock and cap with crushed concrete and, every year, add a load,” Holmbeck said.

Commissioner Justin Ahlers said he favored bringing in a couple of loads of crushed concrete.


“... Why didn’t we table the discussion on something that they came forward with and said at the very beginning, ‘we’ve never done this in Nobles County before,’" Carol added.
“It’s a great school, it’s almost like a family. I really connect with these kids here. I just have a lot of love in my heart for these kids.”
“I’ve not had one person talk to me and say ‘Boy, that’s a huge safety concern. We need to spend a bunch of county funds to improve that.’”

“What is the county’s purpose for the lot over the next five to 10 years?” asked Commissioner Chris Dybevick.

“I would say it’s needed,” Heitkamp said of the lot, noting the two-hour parking restrictions on the streets surrounding the government center. “We’ve met our capacity on the concrete lot and we do need the overflow. I think we do need to retain that lot for secondary, off-street purposes.”

Commissioner Bob Paplow suggested looking into the cost of putting concrete on the lot, and asked about the potential of paving half of it.

“Since it’s our lot, I think we need to do something stable,” Paplow said.

Commissioner Bob Demuth Jr. said the condition of the lot is frequently discussed at employee empowerment team meetings.

“It is the only gravel parking lot in the city center, and it’s a bit embarrassing,” Demuth said.

Ahlers then responded, “Every dime we spend on there (the lot) is a dime less that we spend on a road that we drive every day.”

Holmbeck said he could have his staff do what they could to maintain it for now, and said anything more permanent wouldn’t happen overnight.


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