WESTMINSTER - City residents, merchants and council members gave mixed reviews to a Downtown Task Force proposal that would make Main Street one way and line one side with diagonal parking.
Green Street, which runs parallel to Main, would become one way in the opposite direction. The task force did not suggest in which direction traffic would travel on either street.
Some merchants said the suggestion might cure downtown parking and traffic woes, citing Frederick as a city where a similar plan has been successful.
"I am for the suggestion that allows the most parking," said Judy Nave, owner of Forget Me Not. She said studies should be made of whether diagonal parking on one side or parallel parking on both sides of the street would yield the most spaces.
The task force report said diagonal spaces would increase parking capacity by 30 percent.
Nave also noted that because parking is only allowed on the north side of Main Street, downtown shoppers already travel east on Green Street and then west on Main to park in front of the stores.
Those opposed to the recommendation said it would merely cause more traffic jams, since Green Street does not run all the way through town.
"Since there are not a lot of through streets, Main Street should be two-way," Manning Parsons, president of T. W. Mather's & Sons, said.
Others said that they have received few complaints about parking or that the proposed changes would not effectively plan for the future.
"I don't see where it would change things enough to warrant changing the character (of Main Street) or increasing the traffic on (Green Street)," Sharon Hooper, owner of the Yarn Basket, said. "I would rather see them bite the bullet and build a parking garage."
Some Green Street residents said that one-way traffic on the two streets would increase traffic in their neighborhood.
"There's enough traffic on the street now," said Virginia Boyd, echoing neighbors who said cars on Green run bumper-to-bumper during rush hours, Farm Museum activities and parades.
Others said the proposal might have merit because the street is too narrow for two-way traffic.
"With the large trucks, it gets pretty tight on this street," James Dayhoff said.
Longtime council members said making Main Street one way has been suggested and rejected before by citizens.
Members of the Fire Department have expressed concerns because the station is located on Main Street.
"One of the major problems is the fire equipment and ambulances not being able to go in both directions," Councilman William F. Haifley said.
Fire Chief Jay Nusbaum agreed.
"I don't think they've taken any of this into consideration when they made the recommendations," he said.
In addition, Planning Director Thomas B. Beyard said Green Street might not be a suitable alternate, since heavy trucks bottom out on the bridge spanning the railroad tracks near Liberty Street.
Task force members said the proposal is only one of many inexpensive ways to improve downtown parking and traffic flow.
"It's not something we need to do right this minute," said R. Wayne Barnes, chairman of the task force's subcommittee on accessibility.
Council President Kenneth J. Hornberger said the proposal might be sent to the Public Safety and Public Improvements Committee for consideration.