9/12/2012 2:02:00 PM North Vernon City Council-Parking accommodation doesn't sit well with Uptown merchants
DeJon Snodderly, owner of Greathouse Hardware pasionately expresses his opposition to making Fifth Street one-way at the US 50 intersection up to East O&M Avenue. Accompanying him were, clockwise from left,Cheri and Kurt Howard of Right Auto Parts; Amy O’Mara Boswell of O’Mara Contracting; Tiny Maschino of Greathouse Hardware and Cindy and Doug Scheur of Shur Stop.
When criticism was rife regarding the Stellar Committee's proposal to close Short Street, the committee dropped back and came up with an alternative idea that would preserve 17 parking spaces lost if the street closed. Those spaces had been a major source of contention from Madison Avenue merchants.
The committee was hoping their new plan would accommodate Madison Avenue business concerns over parking. The only problem was, the committee did not foresee the adamant opposition in their redesign of Fifth Street which would add angle parking spaces on one side and make the street one-way in the north direction. The angle parking would create additional spaces so there would a zero loss of parking spaces.
The updated Stellar Community plan was unveiled at the North Vernon City Council on Monday night, Sept. 10.
DeJon Snodderly, owner of Greathouse Hardware, wasted no time in making it perfectly clear how he felt about the new plan.
"It'll crush our business," he said emphatically. "We survive on people getting to our store. This will kill us. I am passionate as this is our livelihood. I've worked 30 years there."
The way Snodderly sees it, making Fifth one-way will just make it too difficult for his customers to get there and then back to Hwy. 50. If Fifth Street is one-way, customers leaving his store would probably go up to the post office corner where they would find a nightmare.
"You're lucky to get through there without getting hit," he says.
In this man's view, it is better to lose the 17 parking places if Short is closed than to have four businesses go out of business, which is what he predicts will happen, if Fifth is made one-way.
Accompanying Snodderly to the Council were Doug and Cindy Scheuer of Shur Stop; Kurt and Cheri Howard of Right Auto Parts; Amy O'Mara Boswell of O'Mara Contracting; and Tina Maschino of Greathouse Hardware. Also present was Tom Taylor, who has spoken at length against the closing of Short Street.
Cory Whitesell of HWC Engineering explained how, in his opinion, making Fifth Street one-way north would improve the safety of the US 50/Madison/Fifth Street intersection and how angle parking on the O'Mara building side of the street would offset loss of parking on Short Street.
In essence, with Fifth one-way, there would be no loss of parking spaces if Short is closed to create what he terms "a transformative space."
Whitesell also explained other changes the Stellar Committee has come up with, including:
Adding a stop sign on westbound O&M at Fourth Street and relocating the stop sign at Fourth's intersection with O&M;
Dead ending Poplar at Madison Avenue and adding a three-way stop at Poplar and Jackson streets;
Closing Madison south of US 50 to traffic which would impact renters at the old Ruby Jane building; and
Adding more trees and benches to the Short Street/Madison Avenue area. "We worked really hard to make it more park-like...a lot softer," Whitesell said.
Stellar Committee member Tony Eder told the Council that "to be perfectly honest...any of these complaints would have been better (heard) months ago. We're getting to a time where to need to make decisions."
Eder promised Snodderly and his group that the Stellar Committee would take the business owners' objections into consideration.
But as far as he is concerned, Short Street needs to be closed. "If I didn't believe Short Street was a major jewel to the downtown, I wouldn't care," he said.
The Council agreed to table the issue of Short Street after President Dave Shaw stated "It's obvious we have some stuff to look at."