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Mayor Refers Parking Controversy To Committee

By Staff | Oct 5, 2011

No parking signs recently erected on North and Pine streets near that intersection were the subject of some controversy at the New Martinsville City Council meeting Monday evening.

Residents Y.J. and Jennifer Eller said they now don’t have anywhere to park near their home located at the corner of those two streets.

The Ellers bought the former Sam Saad property in 2004 and operated a business in it at one time. While it’s not a business now, Y.J. said if he ever wants to open a business again or sell or lease it, it will be impossible without parking available. “I don’t feel it’s fair,” he said.

Councilman Steve Pallisco said the parking prohibition was put into place because it was a safety issue. “It’s a hazard when you get to the bottom of that hill (Doolin Road),” said Pallisco. “I have had complaints myself.”

Doolin Road is a route commonly used by gas development vehicles. The road makes a jog when it intersects with Pine Street.

Street Commissioner Gary Willey said, particularly when Y.J. parks his dump truck on North Street there, the westbound traffic must swing out into the eastbound lane to get around it.

Y.J. said he has parked the truck there as a defensive move. He claimed his sidewalk has been broken down eight inches in the past few years because of traffic, particularly trucks, driving on his sidewalk.

“Him parking that dump truck out front is a hazard. He knows it is,” said Willey.

Councilman Joel Potts III said he didn’t understand why the parking needed to be removed from that area of Pine Street. Willey responded that some vehicles cannot navigate the turn if vehicles are parked there.

“Why not leave it (Y.J.’s truck’s trailer) in the backyard?” asked Willey. “Why crowd the intersection?”

Potts said everyone says the town is pushing for business, but these actions seem to speak otherwise. “I see exactly what you’re up against,” said Potts.

“I’m all for business,” said Pallisco. “But I’m bigger for safety.”

“I keep hearing Stone, Stone, Stone,” said Jennifer, referring to Stone Energy, a gas development company that has a truck yard near the intersection. “What about us? Now I’m suffering.”

She said the dust created from the increased truck traffic has prohibited them from opening their home’s windows, in turn causing higher electric bills this summer for air conditioning. She added, “I have had a cough for months that I can’t get rid of.”

Mayor Lucille Blum said she was of the opinion that a decision could not be made at the council meeting and referred the matter back to the committee that deals with streets. For now the parking prohibition will remain.

While the parking matter was left unresolved, council did agree to lower the speed limit on the section of North Street east of state Route 2 from 25 to 15 miles per hour.

Also, council unanimously agreed to hire Justin Miller as full-time laborer for the street department as of Oct. 17 pending passing a drug test and physical. “Gary’s building a really good team,

In another matter, Willey spoke to the city’s paving projects, reporting Nicholas Circle is completed. Recorder Bonnie Shannon read a letter of thanks from the residents of that street, “May all your such future endeavors go as well.” Councilman Joel Potts also said he has heard many compliments and thank yous for the work.

The street crew is currently working on Rosary Road and then will focus on Parkway and North Street.

Council also thanked Willey’s wife, Tammy, for sprucing up the welcome sign on Harlan Drive by planting mums around it.

Trick or treat in New Martinsville was set for Oct. 31 from 6-7 p.m.

Electric Department Manager Dave White said that while the wet weather is inhibiting some work, they are moving forward in installing automatic metering equipment. A total of 1,600 meters need to be installed for the city’s residential customers.

Council approved a proclamation naming Oct. 3-7 as Public Power Week. During this week New Martinsville residents are invited to stop by the lobby of the city building to pick up some helpful information and items, as well as refreshments.

Water Department Manager Pat Durant said his crew is almost finished flushing hydrants in the downtown area and will probably move that work to Steelton next week.

Chuck Stora reported to council that things are going well at the hydroelectric plant. Unit 1 has been shut down for maintenance since Sept. 10 and they are currently two weeks ahead of schedule on that project.

Shannon reported she has received a $9,927 grant for Riverfront Development to be used for the Festival of Memories.

Reporting on that group’s progress, Pallisco said they are going strong. “We have some good things starting to happen,” he said. Various groups and individuals have contributed monetarily to the committee, making their funding enough that they can write some larger grants for which they would have matching funds now. Additionally, they have applied for some port authority funding.

Shannon also said the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will be coming to New Martinsville Thursday or Friday to hold required pre-bid conferences, along with Willey, concerning the tearing down of the former Nazarene Church on Maple Avenue and another structure. Those projects have been put out for bid in the Wetzel Chronicle’s legal advertisements. Shannon hopes they can open submitted bids at the November council meeting.

Potts pointed out that the employee handbook says the only individuals that are to be in city vehicles are city employees or elected officials. It is a liability issue. “If it continues, I will be the one to bring it to the rest of the council,” said Potts. “We’ve got to not get in trouble with the insurance company.”

Mayor Blum said instances of violating that city policy have also been brought to her attention.

Parks and Recreation Director Bev Gibb said her department is currently conducting Sunday and competitive soccer leagues involving about 100 kids. They are also in the planning stages for an Alzheimer’s Walk on Nov. 22. Further, Gibb reported the fence has been ordered for the dog park at Lewis Wetzel Park. “I’m very excited about the dog park,” she related.

At the end of the meeting council retired to the conference room for an hour-long executive session on a personnel matter. When they returned to the council chambers the governing body unanimously approved a motion for Police Chief Tim Cecil to direct all officers to submit preliminary reports of investigation within 24 hours to Detective Donnie Harris. If not, a three-day suspension without pay will be enforced. Also, the officers will be asked to sign a letter to verify they understand the proper procedure for completing a report.