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Streetscape plan strikes a nerve with Shepherdstown residents

January 23, 2008|By DAVE McMILLION

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. - A push is under way to firm up final plans for a $1.1 million streetscape project in Shepherdstown, but issues continue to surface about traffic calming features of the plan, maintenance for new trees and other issues.

Many concerns were raised by Shepherdstown Town Council member Stuart Wallace during a town council meeting Tuesday night.

There has been a concern about volume of traffic on German Street - the main thoroughfare through town - and how fast motorists travel on the road.

The streetscape plan calls for paver crosswalks along German Street in an attempt to "calm" traffic, town officials have said.

Wallace said he fears placing traffic calming measures on German Street will cause motorists to start using other streets in town.

"We all live on those other routes," said Wallace, adding that some of the traffic "will end up on my street."

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Town resident Maura Balliett said she was concerned about new trees in the plan obscuring views of motorists.

Officials who have been working on the plan found historic photographs showing trees planted closer to the edge of German Street. The plan is styled after that design and there are different sketch plans showing groupings of trees at intersections along German Street.

Mayor Lance Dom Tuesday night spoke favorably of the project, saying he thinks it will influence some downtown business owners to improve their properties.

Although Shepherdstown is a popular town with restaurants, live music, shops and a tourist draw, Dom said town residents could take better care of it.

"I see the streetscape (plan) as a shot in the arm," Dom told council members.

Dom said officials with the state Division of Highways, which must issue a permit to allow the project, have told him that the town is moving slowly on the project.

Dom said government funding for the project could be withheld if the town waits too long.

The $1.1 million project is being funded through a combination of federal Transportation Enhancement Grant funding and slot machine revenue from Charles Town Races & Slots, town officials have said.

Town Council member Howard Mills said crumbling sidewalks along German Street need fixed and added he likes the plans for new trees.

Experts have told town officials the current trees downtown were not good choices for the town, were not planted properly and do not have a bright future.

"We'll get it done professionally. We'll get it done right," Mills said.

"We need the sidewalks done in the worst way," said Town Council member Jim Auxer.

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