City Commission meeting highlighted by public comments about High Side Project

Published 12:01 pm Monday, April 8, 2024

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At each City Commission meeting, there is a time for comments from the general public concerning items not on the agenda.

The meeting of Tuesday, April 2, featured several as comments both supporting and showing concern about the Main Street High Side Project were presented.

Speakers included Aaron Dickey, Sydney Dickey, Steve Justice, Gary Hess, Sarah Hess, Amanda Adams, Adam Kidd, Anna Kidd, Roberta Newell and Jeffrey Hale.

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Local citizen Steve Justice presented his concerns about angled parking and more.

“I do have a concern about not having parallel parking on the High Side because my thoughts are if you’re coming down Lexington [Avenue] and take a left, [then] if we’ve got diagonal parking going all the way down through there, you’re going to have to go all the way up to Highland [Street], come down Highland to Broadway [Street], and back up to Park [Avenue],” Justice said. “[It] seems like that’s kind of a problem there as far as parking.”

Among others, local businessman Gary Hess presented similar concerns for parking.

“I drive a big work van. If I…pull in a diagonal parking [spot], I’m sure [for] some of you who drive smaller vehicles, if you park next to me, you’re not [going to] see to back out.”

Adam Kidd, co-owner of the McEldowney Building and Project Administrator at DAM Holdings LLC, supports the project and spoke from a different perspective.

“I do not think we have a parking problem. I think we have a parking usage problem,” Kidd said, stating that there were 115 parking spots in the downtown district signed for county personnel. “I think that people are incorrectly using the city street parking, and that’s business owners included.”

Also supporting the Main Street High Side project development was Jeffrey Hale, who spoke of what he believes to be a welcoming environment.

“I have a business downtown…but I also hang out downtown,” Hale said. “To me, the High Side Project and increasing the space for people affords people the ability to come downtown whether they want to buy something or not. So, that’s the thing that excites me the most.”

While several were supportive of the new stairs design, others – including Hess – acknowledged concerns.

“A lot of people come down to watch the parades. They have a place to sit. They have a place to stand,” he said. “If we take all that away and you put everybody on one level, it’s [going to] be [problematic].”

Roberta Newell, a local historian and genealogist, stated that she hopes the plan is well thought out.

“I just hope that whatever you all choose to do, that you don’t have any regrets in later years,” Newell said. “Once it’s gone, it’s gone.”

Pete Koutoulas, in a statement read by Adam Kidd, spoke.

“We’ve had almost a year to register our likes and dislikes regarding the plan,” the statement reads. “Now, it seems that there’s some pushback from folks who are not satisfied with the proposals. That is their right and privilege. However, I believe the community has had more than a reasonable opportunity to ask questions and register their opinions on the project.”

Sydney Dickey also spoke.

“My husband and I often frequent downtown and it would be super great to be able to see it get a facelift and get some pride for downtown as well.”

As mentioned in a prior article, while the project will soon go to bid, plans are for construction to be complete by the end of 2025.