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To parallel park or not to parallel park

By Staff | Sep 10, 2014

Sistersville residents are being asked to vote on which “style” of parking they prefer on Wells Street (through the middle of the downtown area). Residents can sign a petition at the City Building stating whether they prefer parallel or diagonal parking. The lists will be available until Oct. 6, at which time the City Council will tally the votes and decide which direction the cars in the city will be parked from now on.

Sistersville City Council wants to know residents’ opinions on the style of parking on Wells Street in the business district.

Several years ago it was changed from the usual parallel style to diagonal pull-in parking on one side. Mayor Bill Rice said that while some people have expressed to him a desire to return to the previous parking, he believes it is up to the council, after listening to the people.

Some people say the diagonal parking makes it difficult to see the oncoming traffic when pulling out of a space. However, Police Chief Ben Placer said he has only had to file reports on a handful of accidents in that area during his time as chief.

Another factor to consider is that if the parking was parallel style, that portion of Wells Street would likely go back to two-way traffic, a change from the current one-way restriction, south only.

As for the number of parking spots, Rice said the number would be about the same either way-perhaps a loss of two spots with the parallel configuration. However, the number of eventual spots would depend upon the streetscape design.

Rice brought this matter up at Monday’s council meeting because the city was recently visited by some community planners in a walk-through to precede the planning for a streetscape project.

In the June meeting Rice talked about a grant for such work that was applied for by previous mayor Dave Fox. The city was awarded $225,000, but the city must provide a 20 percent match, or about $45,000.

Before any planning can be done for the upgrade, the city must decide what style of parking they desire. Then the engineers can plan accordingly.

To get a good gauge of the public’s opinion, council decided to put a sort of petition-style vote in place at the city building. Residents are invited to sign their name to a list in favor of either parallel or diagonal parking. These lists will be available until Oct. 6. Then council will tally the “votes” and decide which direction the city should go with their streetscape project.

Another decision council will need to make is what to do with the city’s parking meters on that street. If the direction of parking is changed, the meters would either need to be eliminated or reinstalled in the former fashion.

Chief Placer said the meters are now paid for, so all money put in them is profit for the department. He said they they get $700-800 per month from the meters. “We’ve been getting it pretty regularly,” said Placer.

Rice was told last week, when the group visited the city, that the city needs to accept an engineering firm for the project as soon as possible. Burgess and Niple is doing most of the streetscape projects in West Virginia.

Council voted unanimously to accept that firm as their streetscape engineers.

Councilman Mark Klages asked if it would cost the city anything at the current time. Rice indicated it would not, as the initial costs will be paid by the state to the firm.

Any actual construction would not be until at least summer 2016.