Friday, July 8, 2011

Council puts brakes on Maytown Road-South Market Street proposal

At its workshop meeting last night, Elizabethtown Borough Council put the brakes on a proposal to create a series of one-way streets at and around the intersection of Maytown Road and South Market Street.

The Elizabethtown Area Regional Authority (EARA), formed to help implement a regional comprehensive plan approved by the borough and Conoy, Mount Joy and West Donegal townships, discussed the plan at its meeting last month. Traffic engineer Steve Gault presented the plan as an option that would keep traffic flowing at the intersection by using existing streets and doing limited construction.

Last night, Council President Phil Clark and I, both of whom represent the borough on the EARA board along with Councilman Dale Treese (who was absent from last night's meeting), briefed Borough Council on the plans. It was the first time that other members had heard details about it.

After listening to the details and examining a drawing of the plan, Councilman Meade Bierly said he didn't think it would be an improvement to the intersection. He said there are other projects in the community -- such as a bridge in the Conoy Crossing development that will extend Masonic Drive through to Maytown Road -- that ultimately will have an impact on traffic.

Bierly also said this proposed project would not be a good first one for EARA. He thinks -- and it's a good thought -- that EARA's first project needs to be something that garners widespread community support. The intersection changes would cause more consternation and get EARA off to a bad start.

Others councilmen said the proposal raised some safety issues, particularly because northbound traffic would be directed onto Spruce Street. A resident who lives at the corner has addressed Borough Council in the past year because drivers that turn right onto Spruce Street often take the corner too fast. If the proposed plan were implemented, some councilman feel it would not alleviate that problem.

After I blogged about the plan the other week, I heard from some residents, who weren't happy with the proposal. They said it would create an unsafe condition for drivers on Maytown Road that wanted to head into downtown because it would force them to turn right onto Market Street and cross traffic to make an immediate left onto Lemon Street.

EARA had authorized Gault to proceed with exploring grant funding for the project, but consensus among Borough Council last night was not to proceed with that. 

While at first glance, I felt this plan was an innovative approach to the intersection, I join my council colleagues in wanting to put the brakes on the plan. I do think it might be worthwhile considering at some point -- but not without careful and deliberate consideration of the issues that we talked about last night and that residents have raised with me.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Verizon Wireless store to move into former Blockbuster site

The Verizon Wireless store located next to Rita's Italian Ice on North Market Street is moving to the former Blockbuster Video site on South Market Street, according to a Verizon Wireless spokesman.

Responding to questions emailed to the company's corporate public relations office, Sheldon Jones said the store will open no later than July 18 and will expand from one employee to five. The store is owned by John Forsythe and is one of 235 independently owned "premium retailers" in the Philadelphia region that includes central and eastern Pennsylvania, southern New Jersey and Delaware. The company also has 90 corporate-owned locations.

"We are strategically seeking out pockets of our market that need a larger Verizon Wireless presence and looking for the prime real estate in that market," Jones said in his email. "We feel that this strategy is the right thing to do to serve our customer base and future Verizon Wireless customers."

Forsythe operates the Elizabethtown store  through a partnership with The Cellular Connection, which operates over 400 Verizon Wireless stores nationwide, according to Jones.

Verizon has eyed prime real estate locations in local markets because they are visible to customers, Jones said. Recently, the York Daily Record reported on a similar move just outside York.

Former Blockbuster stores give Verizon Wireless more room to display smartphones, tablets and other mobile internet devices in an industry that is changing rapidly.

"This larger location will allow a more interactive feel in his store and allow the customers to experience the latest technology offered by Verizon Wireless," Jones said.

It's great to see a local business expanding, and it's fantastic to see reuse of a commercial space.