Hatcher seeks solution, funding for Justice Center parking problem

This image taken Tuesday morning shows the chronic parking problem Circuit Court Clerk Tom Hatcher facing prospective jury members who report for duty at the Blount County Justice Center. Hatcher is hoping the Blount County Commission will appropriate funds to expand the parking lot at the Justice Center.

Photo by Jolanda Jansma

This image taken Tuesday morning shows the chronic parking problem Circuit Court Clerk Tom Hatcher facing prospective jury members who report for duty at the Blount County Justice Center. Hatcher is hoping the Blount County Commission will appropriate funds to expand the parking lot at the Justice Center.

On Tuesday, Nov. 16, Blount County Circuit Court Clerk Tom Hatcher was on the roof of the Blount County Justice Center. He was watching frustrated drivers with business at the Justice Center.

Hatcher was getting an overhead view of the overcrowded parking situation he said is forcing many who report for jury duty on jury trial days to seek parking across East Lamar Alexander Parkway at Blount Memorial Hospital.

Hatcher said dealing with the overcrowded parking situation was something he, Sheriff James Berrong and the judges in the building have been working on for a couple years. “It started with a meeting with Mayor Cunningham and has gotten to the point where the commission has on the agenda to try to do additional parking,” he said. “We’re not trying to make additional parking for defendants. It is for citizen taxpayers who don’t have business other than when summoned for jury duty.”

The circuit court clerk said when the main parking lot overflows motorists are forced to park in the back of the Justice Center property or across the street in Blount Memorial Hospital parking lot. “The judges and the district attorney and myself and the sheriff are asking for relief for the citizens,” he said.

The commission will consider funding the improvements during the Thursday, Nov. 18, meeting. The commission will have to approve $60,000 to cover the expense of expanding the parking lot at the Justice Center. The work would be done by Blount County Highway Department personnel.

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