The West Main Street-Pennsylvania Avenue Task Force has approved a "streetscaping" concept for the reconstruction project and will present it to the Westminster City Council Jan. 24.
The task force met Tuesday night to discuss plans for the reconstruction of Pennsylvania Avenue, scheduled to begin this year, that had been brought up at a December open house meeting with the public.
Topics included tree removal and replacement, Western Maryland College entrances, curbing, storm water drainage and the color of sidewalk paving.
"Residents along Pennsylvania Avenue want the group of large sycamore trees to be removed because the roots are causing sewer problems," said Tom Beyard, director of Planning and Public Works for Westminster.
At the same time, residents want other trees planted to replace the sycamores, he said.
A major change along Pennsylvania Avenue would be the proposed closing of three entrances to Western Maryland College for a loop road opposite Sullivan Road at the college's golf course.
Concern was expressed about the ability of emergency equipment to reach the center of the campus, the width of the entrance needed for two-way traffic, the type and height of curbing at the entrance and placement of fire hydrants.
Edgar Sell, the college's physical plant director, suggested a sloped curb that would allow emergency vehicle access around the loop road. Hydrant locations would have to be worked out with the Fire Department.
Don Fisher of the State Highway Administration said 25 feet is the minimum width for a two-way street for the loop road.
Mr. Beyard also asked for pedestrian crosswalks for pedestrian. A crosswalk is particularly needed at the intersection of Union Street by the Little George's convenience store for schoolchildren, he said.
Using the recently completed East Main Street reconstruction, the Task Force also debated how to do the Pennsylvania Avenue work -- whether to repair one side of the street at a time, or block by block -- and how access to homes and businesses would be retained.
"The problem is the more you try to keep the road open, the longer the job goes," said Mr. Beyard. "Businesses that will be affected are concerned about access. The residents can use Winter's Alley, but the businesses will have a problem with parking."
Joe Beaver of Union National Bank recommended a block-by-block process, using signs and traffic pattern maps to show people how to enter businesses during construction.
"Some people automatically assumed they couldn't get to businesses [during East Main Street work] because the road was blocked, but by getting the information out to people and being a little more graphic about where to go, we can avoid that," Mr. Beaver said.
Emergency access was another concern. Westminster Councilwoman Rebecca Orenstein said the Fire Department would support the use of Winter's Alley if it were maintained properly during construction.
In the end, the task force decided to go with the block-by-block method.
Still another topic was what color and shape of pavers on sidewalks to use -- the same as on East Main Street or something different.
Although Ms. Orenstein favored keeping the same pattern and color as on East Main Street, Mr. Beaver and Dan Uebersax, landscaper for SHA, favored different pavers to bring out the neighborhood character.
Final decisions on pavers and other details will be made as the project goes along. Mr. Beyard urged the task force to bring plans to the City Council this month so the project can move through the phases of approval.