Business owners protest sidewalks Proposal would eliminate space for customers to park, they say

July 01, 1998|By Ron Snyder | Ron Snyder,CONTRIBUTING WRITER

Owners of businesses along a 1.7-mile stretch of Eastern Boulevard in Essex said last night that plans to build a sidewalk would eliminate road shoulders where their customers park and put them out of business.

The new sidewalks are included in a nearly $6 million streetscape project, part of an effort to revitalize the county's east side.

"I look at this proposed plan and I can see my business going down the drain," said Ron Wasner, owner of J&H Tires at 1786 Eastern Boulevard. He spoke at an information meeting sponsored by the Baltimore County Office of Community Conservation at Our Lady of Mount Carmel High School in Essex.

Wasner said that he used the road shoulder for parking for customers and his employees. If the shoulder is taken away from him, he said, the number of parking spaces he can provide will drop from 32 to six. Wasner has seven employees.

Raymond L. Heil, streetscape project manager for the Office of Community Conservation, said the reason the shoulder is being taken away is safety. He cited a large number of traffic accidents along the stretch of road over the last five years, including three ,, involving pedestrians.

"We cannot have parking on the shoulders of roads. It is unsafe and we won't have it anymore," Heil said. "We are trying with this plan to calm traffic down as well as [provide] a safe place for pedestrians. "

As for the parking situation, Heil told Wasner his customers and employees could park on the nearby lot at the Mars supermarket or on a lot owned by the Knights of Columbus.

Wasner said that there were too many incidents of vandalism at Mars, and he feared he would not be able to keep an eye on cars on the Knights of Columbus lot.

Along with the planned sidewalk improvements on Eastern Boulevard from Selig Avenue to Martin Boulevard, the county plans to overhaul curbs, gutters and change traffic patterns.

Many business owners do not see a need to improve the sidewalks because they feel there is not enough pedestrian traffic.

"Why do they need to improve walk-in traffic when there is no walk-in traffic?" said Dave Parsons, owner of ADP Automotive at 1726 Eastern Blvd. "Most of the businesses along this street are automotive-related. If they don't have a car, why would they come here?"

Pub Date: 7/01/98

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