Perhaps I’m picking on our county just a little too much – but I wonder if the liability is included in the $1.5 million land price?
This came from Wicomico County Executive Rick Pollitt and his mouthpiece Jim Fineran:
Wicomico County Executive Richard M. Pollitt, Jr., announced today that immediate traffic control procedures will be initiated on the portion of Glen Avenue directly north of the Wicomico Youth & Center by prohibiting vehicular traffic before, during and after major Civic Center events. The action follows two hit and run accidents on March 12th, involving pedestrians crossing Glen Avenue from the old mall parking lot to the Civic Center.
“We can’t delay on taking measures to insure the safety of our Civic Center patrons,” said Pollitt. “Stopping traffic on Glen Avenue is the quickest, cheapest way to make sure that our patrons can cross over to the Civic Center in safety. When we own that parking lot, we shall make improvements and pedestrian safety will be chief among them. We need, however, to do something now.”
The old mall parking lot is not owned by Wicomico County but Civic Center patrons have been using it for overflow parking. Among the upcoming major events scheduled for the arena are Bill Cosby, the annual poodle show, high school and Salisbury University graduations and the Fernando Guerrero boxing match.
Perhaps the best solution to this issue would be to eliminate the problem entirely and permanently close the portion of Glen Avenue in front of the WYCC. (As an added bonus, we could gain some pervious surface back – maybe they’ll count it towards the requirements of new stormwater regulations!) But residents farther east along Glen Avenue may object to a permanent closure.
Another possible solution would be a traffic signal at the corner of Glen Avenue and Civic Avenue, but that costs money too. Instead we’ll pay on a per-use basis for traffic control.
My point is that the county is buying this parcel of land and building the new parking lot despite the issue which has lay dormant for awhile but reared its ugly head again after the two pedestrians were struck. For years people have used the Old Mall parking lot as a shortcut or as overflow parking to the WYCC – I’ve even done it once or twice for the former Beast of the East custom motorcycle show and other events when the main parking lot was used as part of the exhibit area.
No question there’s an issue with the WYCC site – the planners of 60 years ago when the original was built didn’t fathom the extent of parking needed for events such as those held today. It’s been my opinion that the WYCC is nearing the end of its useful lifespan because of this and other issues. Had the county been thinking, a better use for the money spent on acreage for a far-off west side park or other lands bought with Program Open Space money may have been to secure the land adjacent to Perdue Stadium for a future Civic Center – parking already exists and access from any direction is excellent. Instead, they insist on placing lipstick on the pig that’s there now.
So we will now have the confusing spectacle of traffic being redirected and misdirected during selected events (granted, I believe the WYCC already does this during the poodle show.) With the bulk of these events occurring during the evening hours, perhaps the potential for tragedy is lessened for some (the pedestrians) but increased for anyone who needs to direct traffic (county employees.)
Shortsighted solutions begat unintended consequences. It’s a rule we forgot about when we approved the land deal.
In other local news, we learned that Salisbury City Councilman Gary Comegys was diagnosed with cancer. The 2009 mayoral candidate won his current City Council term in 2007, which obviously leads to speculation as to whether he will run again next spring when his term expires. Given his perceived position on the City Council as one of the three “establishment” votes against Debbie Campbell and Terry Cohen (Cohen is also up in 2011 as is Council President Louise Smith) the prospect of an open seat may make the next year of local politics even more interesting.
But there are things more important than politics for all of us, and hopefully Comegys can make a full recovery and choose the political path he wishes to take free of any ill effects.