FEBRUARY 28, 2011 8:23 a.m. (0)
“Stone Avenue right now is not an attractive place,” said Mike Cubelo, vice president of the North Main Community Association. “It’s a sad-looking strip of road.”
Some neighborhood residents say a Stone Avenue master plan approved on principle by the city council Monday night will help transform the Stone Avenue area into a dramatically different north end of Greenville.
The plan, which council member Amy Ryberg Doyle called a guide not a mandate, calls for a reduction in traffic lanes from four to three, street-front development with parking behind businesses, more green space and an emphasis on attracting unique businesses.
But some business owners, especially those located on Stone Avenue’s west end, said they don’t think reducing lanes of travel is needed and could create more traffic problems, not less.
“Traffic behaves like electricity. It will take the path of least resistance,” said Jim Freeland, who owns two buildings on West Stone Avenue. “Taking four lanes to two lanes will have a bad affect on Stone and the surrounding neighborhoods.”
David Watson, who owns a finance company on West Stone, said his company has 3,300 active loans and 70 percent of his customers come in once a month to pay their bills.
“Traffic is a nightmare every day,” he said.
Reducing travel lanes would impact a “major artery” between Laurens Road and Furman University, he said.
But Doyle said fewer lanes of traffic would make Stone Avenue safer, not more dangerous. She said a similar “road diet” has helped slow down traffic on East North Street and fewer accidents are occurring there.
“More is not always better,” she said. “If it was, Los Angeles would be a good place to live.”
The master plan took about a year to compile. Several meetings were held in the neighborhood, a “walkability” study was done and a planning firm from Florida designed a vision for the neighborhood.
“This a very long-term vision,” said Jennifer Rigby, development planner for the city.
Doyle said city officials want to make East Stone Avenue attractive to businesses.
“That’s the place that’s really struggling,” she said.
Mayor Knox White said West Stone is in the shape it’s in because people have invested there. He said a house that had been vacant for 20 years now houses a business. The area has attracted offices and professionals.
“It shows that it is possible to change things,” he said. “West Stone is a great model because it says we can do this.”
The corner of Main Street and East Stone Avenue will be key in the revitalization of East Stone Avenue, the mayor said.
“It will be a long journey, but we’ll get there,” White said. “The plan certainly provides guidance and shows the great potential of what East Stone can be and will be within 10 years, maybe five years, maybe even sooner.”
Rivers Stillwell, an attorney and a West Earle Street resident, called the goals laudatory but said he was concerned that the street front development portion would discourage economic development and help retain the “atrocious architectural inventory” there now.
“West Stone Avenue is a success story,” he said. “East Stone Avenue is pretty much a disaster area economically.”
Stillwell said the city hopes to see development in the East Stone area, but “right now it’s not walkable because there’s nothing to walk to.”
JANUARY 5, 2012 1:29 p.m. (0)
SEPTEMBER 15, 2011 11:46 a.m. (0)
SEPTEMBER 9, 2011 11:47 a.m. (0)