Residents Oppose Benches On Main St.

Proposal Could Attract Undesirables, They Say

October 27, 1991|By Greg Tasker | Greg Tasker,Staff writer

WESTMINSTER — More trees may grow along the proposed reconstructed East Main Street, but benches are something residents say they would be better off without.

The benches, among the amenities that could be placed along the street from Longwell to Manchester Avenue, could draw undesirables, said residents like Dorothy Duvall, who lives on East Main Street near a neighborhood tavern.

"The wrong type of people will sit on the benches and make that their home for the night," said Duvall, one of about 40 people who attended an open house on the project Thursday.

"We don't mind the trees," she said. "But we're concerned about the furniture."

The East Main Street Reconstruction Task Force invited residents to attend the meeting at the Westminster Fire Company to hear their concerns about the project's revised plans.

The revisions came after residentsobjected to the removal of some existing trees and plans to make thestreet "another highway," said Neil Ridgely, a task force member.

"There was no consideration given to amenities or trees," said Ridgely, a member of the Westminster Tree Commission. "People spoke up very highly that they wanted us to consider those concerns.

"The State Highway Administration did a remarkable job."

Under revised plans, eight existing trees will be removed either because they are in poor health or their location could pose problems for future projects, state highway officials said. Thirty-four existing trees will remain,and 118 shade and ornamental trees -- to be chosen by the Westminster Tree Commission -- will be planted along the nine-block stretch.

Additionally, revised plans call for 21 "pedestrian nodes or bubbles" -- areas designated for pedestrian activities or functions that mayinclude benches, telephones or mailboxes.

The initial project would have called for eliminating 35 parking spaces. Revised plans wouldmean eliminating 19 of the existing 179 parking spaces.

Road width would increase from an average 37 feet to 38 feet between Longwell Avenue and Westminster Avenue and from 35 to 36 feet along the remainder of the street.

Other concerns raised by residents included theelimination of an entrance at a downtown service station and access to buildings for the physically disabled.

"The comments that we heard from citizens were very important and valid comments," Ridgely said.

"All things will be taken into consideration," he said. "A number of citizens I talked to were encouraged to see what would happen to their neighborhoods."

He said the task force will respond to residents' concerns in a report that will be given to the mayor and theCity Council. The mayor and council will weigh those concerns beforemaking a recommendation to the State Highway Administration.

"These are not final engineering plans," said Thomas B. Beyard, city planning director.

He said the state has earmarked about $6 million for the project, which includes not only the several blocks of East Main Street, but also Washington Road and West Main Street projects. Thereconstruction project is slated to begin in fiscal 1993.

"At this point, the whole construction project is subject to fund availability," said Charles B. Adams, chief of the Highway Administration's landscape architecture division. He said the construction project would take about two years to complete.

The city is expected to pick up the cost of amenities, such as trees and benches, at a cost of about $600,000, Beyard said.

TASK FORCE'S LATEST RECOMMENDATIONS

TREE SUMMARY

* 34 existing trees remain (17 in tree protection bubbles).

* Eight existing trees removed:

* Four Norway maples.

* Two Crimson King maples.

* Two sweet gums.

* 118 proposed trees (recommended species; actual species to be chosen by Westminster Tree Commission):

* 24 medium shade trees (Zelkova, honey locust, yellowwood and red maple.

* 94 ornamental trees (amur maple, hedge maple,service berry, Japanese tree lilac, flowering pear, golden rain tree, flowering cherry, hawthorn and viburnum).

BUBBLES/NODES

* 11 pedestrian nodes.

* Seven tree-protection bubbles.

* Three tree-planting bubbles.

PARKING

* Initial streetscape design (spring1991) would have meant a net reduction of 35 parking spaces (19.6 percent).

* Revised streetscape design (fall 1991) would result in anet reduction of 19 parking spaces (10.6 percent):

* 179 existingon-street parking spaces (including delineated and unmarked areas).

* 160 proposed on-street parking spaces (all areas to be delineated).

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