Photographer asks city to reconsider blocking view from parking garage


A local photographer who uses the top floor of the Second Street parking garage as a photo staging area is asking the city to reconsider plans to block off access.

James Behmke, Columbus, said he and amateur photographers and stargazers use the garage roof to watch supermoons and other astrological shows — taking cameras and telescopes to get a closer view.

He told the Columbus Redevelopment Commission that a proposal to put fence around the perimeter would block his ability to take photos of the downtown from that elevation.

“It’s the only place to get a shot like that,” Behmke┬ásaid, referring specifically to photos he has taken of the Bartholomew County Courthouse clock tower and the Robert Stewart Bridge from the parking garage.

In January, the redevelopment commission began looking into increasing the types of barriers to keep trespassers from climbing over the edge of the Second Street parking garage, which is owned by the city, and accessing The Cole Apartments roof, which is next to the garage.

Wire cables and a concrete barrier are installed to stop cars parked on the roof of the parking garage. But on a portion of the garage roof, a gap extends all the way to the bottom level of the garage. Individuals are jumping over that gap to get to The Cole’s roof.

“How much can the government do to try to protect these people from themselves?” Behmke said. “To make that jump is just stupid.”

Redevelopment Commission chairwoman Sarah Cannon said The Cole’s staff had contacted the city about damage resulting from trespassers who have jumped over to the apartment roof. One person eventually ended up on one of The Cole apartment balconies, which was disconcerting to the resident who lived in the apartment, she said.

“This is more than just trying to protect people from themselves,” Cannon said. The city’s potential liability of someone being injured or killed there is a concern, she said.

For more on this story, see Friday’s Republic.

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Julie McClure is assistant managing editor of The Republic. She can be reached at or (812) 379-5631.