Columbus is considering tougher and more expensive barriers to keep trespassers from climbing over the edge of the city’s Second Street parking garage to access The Cole apartments roof.
Columbus Redevelopment Commission attorney Stan Gamso provided the Columbus Redevelopment Commission with photos of the rooftop access, showing how easy — but dangerous — it is to cross over from the garage to the apartment building’s roof.
Gamso pointed out that people who are trespassing are not only breaking the law, as no-trespassing signs are clearly posted at The Cole, but risking their lives.
There are wire cables and a concrete barrier to stop cars parked on the rooftop. But on a portion of the garage roof, a gap extends all the way down to the bottom level of the garage that individuals are jumping across when trespassing, he said.
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The apartment complex has complained about damage to the membrane roof of the apartment complex when individuals land and walk on it, and the city has received complaints about trash being left on both rooftops after the weekends, he said.
Last November, commission members approved approved installing gates to block off roof-top entrances to the Second Street and Jackson Street garages to prevent trespassers from accessing the garage roof area after hours.
The gates are being fabricated and installed by Ace Welding and should be in place in about a month, said Gary Thompson of REI, the company that manages the garages for the city.
This was the least expensive option to thwart the trespassers and will cost the city about $10,770, commission members said.
However, complaints from The Cole about damage by the trespassers, and potential liability concerns for the city, are causing the commission to rethink the strategy.
On Monday, Thompson reviewed the two garage budgets with commission members and said he is requesting capital improvements for upgraded cameras on both garages, an investment of more than $40,000.
In addition, Thompson brought a sample of a fencing material that could be placed along the side of the garage facing The Cole roof which is designed to prevent anyone from getting a finger- or toe-hold to climb over. The material has small openings, much smaller than chain link fence that can be easily climbed, he said.
Cost estimate to install the fending is about $50,000, Thompson told the commission. A metal fabricator would be required to make and install the fence as it would need to pass around columns that are built into the garage wall.
Commission members also mentioned the possibility of a security guard being stationed in the area near The Cole, but a cost option was not considered for that.
Commission member Al Roszczyk said he thought the city should try the gates first and see if they deter the trespassers from the site.
“My concern is someone who will fall through there and die,” he said.
Heather Pope, city redevelopment director, said The Cole has caught several juveniles they have found on the roof, but declined to press charges and released them back to their parents.
The commission accepted the parking garage budgets with the capital expense for the cameras, agreeing to try the gates first before considering the more expensive options.