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Council to spend $55,318 to spruce up city's parking meters

August 18, 2006|by MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - The Martinsburg City Council unanimously decided Thursday night to spend about $55,318 to improve the appearance of the town's 560 parking meters.

"It will dress up the place a little bit," Mayor George Karos said after leaders adjourned a meeting that lasted more than two hours.

Council members awarded a $25,933 contact to Parker Systems for decorative metal sleeves and bases for the poles, and a $29,385 contract to Bohrer and Associates for painting the parking meter heads and crossbars.

Karos billed the aesthetic improvement as another step in the downtown revitalization effort.

"We have banners forthcoming," said Karos, noting the project for the light poles already approved earlier this year.

Karos was unable to say when the meter project would be done, but hopes it is completed this year.

Councilman Richard Yauger, chairman of the council's budget and finance committee, said the money for the parking meter contracts was taken from the city's parking fund.

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Councilman Roger Lewis, whose Fourth Ward includes much of the downtown business district, agreed the sleeves would improve the appearance of the coin-fed meters.

"The big decision is whether we want a black (base) or a green one," Lewis said after noting during the session he wasn't going to "get in the middle of that" debate.

"Our meters now look like something out of the '50s," said Lewis, noting he had seen a similar improvement in Frederick, Md.

Karos previously has said limited funding has prohibited other elements of the 2004 downtown plan from moving forward. The mayor readily acknowledged earlier this year that his first priority is to complete the Raleigh Street Extension, a road project that would establish a second north-south route for vehicles traveling in and out of downtown. Queen Street now is the only option.

In a separate action related to downtown plan improvements for parking, City Council voted to authorize Karos to sign a real estate contract with American Legion Post 14 to purchase a parking lot for $90,000 from the fraternal organization. The lot adjoins existing municipal government property behind City Hall and now is accessed from College Street.

Karos previously estimated the lot could provide an additional 30 spaces. The post allowed city employees to park in the lot at no charge up until January of this year, both sides have said.

Town leaders have said they prioritized phases of the downtown plan and are trying to find matching funding for the project. Among the changes envisioned in the 2004 plan are brick crosswalks, landscaping, lighting and revamping of the town square.

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