PARKERSBURG – Thirty-seven large planters installed on Second Street last year to provide segregated bicycle lanes have been moved against the curbs.
Parkersburg Mayor Jimmy Colombo said the change was originally made for the Parkersburg Homecoming, when vendors set up along the street. But he wants to leave the planters where they are to improve the street for motorists.
“They were … an obstacle for drivers,” Colombo said Monday. “Fire trucks have difficulty going up and down the street.”
An update on the situation is one of three items on the agenda for the meeting of City Council’s Public Works Committee at 5 p.m. today.
Colombo said the planters – some of which contain flowers, while others have trees – sometimes obstructed the view of motorists pulling out of parking lots onto the street. The pots have been struck by vehicles as well, he said.
Colombo said he’s received positive comments on the change from employees of the Bureau of Public Debt and the Wood County Judicial Annex, as well as city firefighters.
The planters were installed about a year ago, a more-than $20,000 project funded primarily by a West Virginia Development Office grant obtained by the Downtown PKB organization. Trees were provided via a demonstration grant from the West Virginia Division of Forestry.
The goals of the project were to create segregated bike lanes on either side of the road to solidify the link between Point Park and the city’s Little Kanawha Connector Trail, as well as improve the area’s aesthetics. Thirty-eight diagonal metered parking spaces were removed to make way for the planters and bike lane. Their elimination remains a sore point for some people who work downtown.
Colombo said that even with the planters moved against the curbs, there are several feet in which bicyclists can ride.
“There’s still a bike lane on both sides,” he said.
City Development Rickie Yeager said there is no requirement tied to the grant to keep the planters in their original position. The final report was submitted last year.
“To my knowledge, the grant period ended in June of 2014,” Yeager said.
About a dozen people were asked their opinion of the change as they walked along Second Street Monday afternoon. Most declined to give their names, but their reactions ranged from residual frustration at the installation of the planters in the first place to indifference over where they were placed.
“It’s a little more clear like that, a little easier to get by,” Belpre resident John Kunz said of the change.
Parkersburg resident Jeanette Schindler said she usually doesn’t travel along Second Street and hadn’t noticed the planters before.
“It looks lovely though,” she said.