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Wetzel Street Parking Still Allowed. . . For Now

By Staff | Sep 11, 2013

Monday evening New Martinsville Council tabled a motion to prohibit parking on this portion of Wetzel Street. (Photo by Lauren Matthews)

Monday evening New Martinsville City Council decided to table a recommendation to abolish parking on Wetzel Street from First Street to the railroad tracks.

The decision came after a resident of that area, Brian Lockhart, presented a petition reportedly signed by all the affected residents asking the city not to approve the proposed change.

In the department head meeting prior to the council meeting, Street Commissioner Gary Willey, who proposed the change, said there was previously no parking on that block. He said after a sewer project was completed in the area a few years ago, the “No Parking” signs disappeared.

Mayor Keith Nelsen asked what prompted the recommendation. Willey said it based on truck traffic to and from the sand and gravel lot and blacktop plant on the western side of the railroad tracks. “It’s something else,” said Willey.

Relatedly, a portion of concrete on First Street, just south of the Wetzel Street intersection, has completely broken up and is now posted for “No Thru Trucks”. Wiley said the sanitary sewer under that portion “let go”.

These trucks are just too heavy,” said Willey.

Nelsen noted that the concrete that is now crumbling “was done correctly.”

“I just want to make sure that what we do is proper and that we’re not jumping the gun,” said Nelsen.

Recorder Bonnie Shannon noted that in the past street changes, such as parking, have been enacted according to if the street commissioner and police chief think something needs to be done.

Nelsen, could perhaps make parking available in the evening. It was suggested that parking might be prohibited from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., weekdays.

Lockhart said that isn’t exactly a good solution for two reasons:

-his wife’s business, Lock Your Hart On Kids Day Care, is open during that time period and customers use on-street parking when dropping off and picking up children

-the trucks also run on the weekends

If parking is to be removed, the only solution Lockhart sees is paving the unimproved alley, an extension west of Witten Lane. Lockhart said when he moved there 23 years ago the alley was overgrown, but he has taken care of it so that now it is grass. It is traveled on some, but obviously that passage is limited at times as the possible thoroughfare is not paved.

Willey argued that all the houses on that block have driveways in which to park. Police Chief Tim Cecil agreed, “Most people have big enough driveways; they hold four cars.”

Lockhart did not agree on the capacity assessment. “When the houses were built there was room for four vehicles, Now If you get four cars in there, it’s rough to get in and out.”

When asked if the residents and their visitors or customers could park on the other side of the street adjacent to the city’s garage complex, Lockhart said it is heavily posted with “No Parking” signs.

Council told Lockhart that the don’t think law enforcement will target anyone stopping for five minutes, like those dropping or picking up children to the day care.

Also, Nelsen said he doesn’t believe there will be any issue parking at the city lot on holidays, a time when Lockhart said the area residents really rely on the on-street parking for their visitors.

Councilman Steve Pallisco said he wasn’t prepared to make a decision Monday night. He represents the ward that includes the area in question. Pallisco added that he had just heard of the proposed parking change that day.

“We’ve put up with a lot there,” added Lockhart, citing the noise, dirt, and traffic on his street. He also said some trucks don’t obey speed limits. Nelsen encourages Lockhart to call to report any speeding he witnesses. Lockhart said the police have a good presence there and when they are seen, the trucks behave.

Council passed the motion to table the parking restriction recommendation until the committee that deals with the streets can meet and then address it at the next council meeting. Nelsen asked that the Lockharts be made aware of that committee meeting.

Conversely, council passed without much discussion a proposal to do away with parking on “C” street located at the top Virginia and Locust streets, connecting them.

“I really have no issue with that street,” said Nelsen.

Councilwoman Kay Goddard added, “As long as they have somewhere to park.”

Willey said the residents all have driveways across the street in which they can park.

Also, most of the parking is being done on private property. The street is only 12 feet wide, said Willey. When cars are parked there Fire Chief Larry Couch says it difficult, if not impossible, to get a fire truck through that small street.

In another street matter, Willey said the paving on North Street is almost completed, with only the area by the Ohio Street Fire Station to be finished. Next the Street Department will be working on East Thistle Drive. Before paving that street they will have to grind the edge and take out some driveway entrances that extend onto the street from the curb. “I just hope they don’t expect us to put them back,” said Willey. He explained that the small ramps are not letting water drain correctly; residents need to feather their driveways to the new pavement, said Willey.