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Ceremony Opens New County Parking Garage After Defacing with Paintballs

(Photo courtesy of Hamilton County)
Hamilton County Commissioners Christine Altman, Steve Dillinger and Mark Heirbrandt cut the ribbon on the new Hamilton County government employee parking garage on Friday morning

We drove by the new Hamilton County government employee parking garage on Thursday night. Although there were blockades at the two entrances, the kiosk at the front gate was lit brightly with public hours posted as well as a photo of the new garage alternating on the screen. The garage was well lit inside and outside.

Just hours later, on the morning of Friday, the 13th, guests arrived to join the Hamilton County Commissioners in a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the parking garage’s grand opening.

Although it was a joyous occasion, the celebration was brought down momentarily by news that the garage had already been defaced with paintballs.

“We came in here this morning, all excited about this, and found someone decided to do paintballs all around our new building,” Hamilton County Commissioner Steve Dillinger said.

County building and grounds employees quickly cleaned the paint as best they could before the ribbon-cutting ceremony.

“Luckily, all of our cameras were activated,” Dillinger said. “We have pictures of the people who were responsible. Our police chief has assured me that we will be giving every effort to bring to justice whoever has done this, and to publicize it, why someone would want to deface something like this for the citizens of Noblesville, and it would cost all of you ….”

Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office posted a video at 2:06 a.m. Saturday, asking for the public’s help in identifying the subject in a video “in reference to criminal mischief.” In Case #2022-9475, “Defacing Public Property,” the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office is investigating a criminal mischief that occurred at the parking garage near 8th and Clinton Street in Noblesville, on the morning of 05/13/2022, at 2:56 a.m., a subject wearing a black shirt, a detachable hoodie covering their head, dark pants, and possible eyeglasses, was walking around the east, south and west side of the Hamilton County Parking Garage in Lot 1 defacing public property.” The subject was wearing “plastic or latex gloves.” Anyone who has information, please call the Sheriff’s Office at 317-776-4067 or to remain anonymous call Crime Stoppers at 317-626-TIPS (8477).

Onto more positive news, during the ribbon-cutting ceremony, Dillinger made a point to share that the budgeted $11.5 million project came in at $11.5 million. “In this trying time, with inflation, fuel cost and everything else, that is absolutely amazing,” he said.

“This garage has been a project that has taken years to develop,” Dillinger said. “It was dependent on the sale of a parking lot, across from Conner Street, as well as many other factors … We had many proposals over the years, many, many meetings over the years…”

Commissioner Mark Heirbrandt said the neighbors were “extremely cooperative.” And it takes this type of collaboration to make that happen, he said.

Heirbrandt talked about the great collaboration — from the use of Riverview Hospital’s vacant lot, where employees could park and ride, to bus shuttles provided by Janus Developmental Service, the Boys & Girls Club of Noblesville and Noblesville Schools. “I really want to recognize all of them.”

He also recognized Garmong Construction Services, an Indianapolis company that headed up the project and built the garage. “I think the design really fits in downtown and is a beautiful building, and I think it complements this downtown area very well,” Heirbrandt said.

“I’ll never forget the interview that we had, because we interviewed several firms for this particular project … This is the first project that Garmong Construction has ever done with the county,” he said. “I’ll never forget the sincerity in somebody that really wanted the opportunity to get in there, who’d never done business with the county. (Garmong president) Paul Okeson coming in and pleading, ‘Just give us the opportunity. I want to be involved in this, and I will make you guys look good.’  And you know what, I think you did, I think you made us look good.”

Dillinger followed up: “As Mark said, this could not have happened without full cooperation and collaboration with the City of Noblesville and the county working together.”

He introduced Noblesville Mayor Chris Jensen, who said, “This project represents an exciting time for Noblesville. We’re on the eve of our 200th birthday in 2023. We look pretty good for 199 … But times change. But at the same time, our core and our Historic Square stay the same. And in order for that to stay the same, enhancements must be made, and that’s what you’re seeing here today….”

Dillinger also introduced Mitch Hannum, vice president of business development for Garmong.

“Ribbon-cuttings are everyone’s favorite day of the project,” Hannum said, thanking a list of people who had their hands in the project.

“I want to begin by thanking Commissioners (Christine) Altman, Dillinger and (Mark) Heirbrandt for putting their faith and confidence in our team to deliver this project. We didn’t take that selection lightly and hope our team performance lived up to your expectations.” He also thanked the neighbors, the county and city. He thanked RQAW architecture and engineering firm in Fishers, and the entire design team, “in bringing this beautiful project to life.”

The first government employees could park their vehicles in the garage on Friday afternoon. Also, the streets that have been closed for the past year, are now open.

And driving by Friday night, I noticed there were cars in the garage already taking advantage of free parking for the public on nights and weekends. There were people walking around inside the garage, likely taking the opportunity to see what a great asset this new parking garage will be for the community.

– Contact Betsy Reason at betsy@thetimes24-7.com.