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Property owners: Don't cut parking for lanes

April 09, 2004|by CANDICE BOSELY

martinsburg@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Property owners in Martinsburg say a plan to add turn lanes so drivers can turn left onto Martin Street from Queen Street will take away too many parking spaces in a city where parking is already perceived to be limited.

Three property owners spoke at the City Council meeting Thursday evening, asking that a different intersection be considered.

To make room for the turn lanes, as many as 18 parking spaces would have to be eliminated, City Planner/Engineer Mike Covell has said.

After listening to the property owners, council members voted unanimously to ask the Division of Highways which intersection would best accommodate left turn lanes.

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Elaine Mauck, owner of Crim De La Crim antique shop, said many of her customers are senior citizens who need to park in front of her store, or need to park there to load and unload items.

She said she looked at the city's parking lots, all of which were nearly full, which she said makes on-street parking vital.

Brenda Casabona, owner of DeFluri's Fine Chocolate, agreed. Although the turn lanes could help with the development of the Roundhouse, it will hurt businesses, she said. She, Mauck and Laura Gassler suggested that the intersection of Race and Queen streets would be a better option for left turns.

Drivers can turn left from Race Street onto Queen Street, but drivers on Queen Street cannot turn left onto Race. That intersection is one block north of the Martin Street intersection.

The intersection two blocks south of Martin Street, at King Street, is now the only downtown intersection where drivers can turn left from Queen Street.

City officials have said a second left-turn option will help with traffic flow.

Gassler, who owns two downtown commercial buildings and a home, said losing so many spaces would further detract from downtown, which people already perceive to be without adequate parking.

"We won't get people down here," she said.

Mayor George Karos responded to the comments, saying council members paid $32,000 to a consulting group to study traffic, parking and downtown revitalization. Following their recommendation is important, he said, although he never detailed exactly what their recommendation was. The full report is expected soon, he said.

Council members want to help the downtown area as much as business owners, he said.

"This is just the beginning of downtown revitalization," said Karos, a downtown business owner himself. "This is the place to begin. We have to look to the future."

The plan still must be approved by the Division of Highways, meaning nothing is set in stone, Councilman Donald Anderson said.

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