By Kara Linaburg
“Emotions are a little high today,” Councilmember Amanda Sayers said, at the Feb. 15 Shinnston City Council meeting.
A resident made a complaint about the parking lot between Casey’s Restaurant and Main Street prior to the meeting, and the issue was examined that night. The parking lot was officially closed until further notice, affecting small businesses such as Road Warriors Garage and Pike Street Bikes.
Following the meeting, a West Virginia Department of Transportation official said there was “no permit for the lot initially, and follow up for a complaint made by a citizen led to the discovery that sidewalk access had been paved over.”
“Number one, let’s clear the record publicly, I put the parking in, Pat (Patrick Kovalck) did not,” City Manager Chad Edwards said. “So anything that is wrong with that parking can fall upon me. I just want to make that clear. And secondly, we will find a way around it. That parking is valuable to the city. We will find a way to do whatever we need to do.”
Councilmember Patrick Kovalck said that while Edwards was right by saying that Kovalck, the former mayor, did not put the parking lot in, he wanted it to be known that he had supported Edwards in his decision.
Members went on to say this complaint about the parking lot will affect not only businesses, but in turn affect the citizens and the people owning the small businesses who are trying to earn money for their families.
“The DOH didn’t tell us who complained, but I’d say that person never owned a business,” Edwards said.
Jennifer J. Dooley of the WVDOT Public Relations Division, said in an email after the meeting, “I spoke with District 4 Manager, Mike Daley, who said that there was no permit for the lot initially, and follow up for a complaint made by a citizen led to the discovery that sidewalk access had been paved over. A meeting is being scheduled for next week to discuss how to correct it and move forward.”
Mayor Rodney Strait also spoke about a complaint about cinders being used on the road during the winter. “It got back to the power plant and the power plant is upset about that… so we may lose our cinders.” Strait talked briefly about the benefits of the cinders, how they have traction and melt the snow, while he said sand and salt wouldn’t be as much of an aid.
Also, the cinders used to treat snow and ice on the streets were originally free aside from the delivery fee, but now the cost will fall on the city. “We’ll have to be sparing with the cinders from here on,” Edwards said.
“I mean we’re going to have to buy them. That’s where the money comes from to pay for these things is the people who live in Shinnston, who pay for the service, and unfortunately that’s going to come down on our citizens.”
After hearing of the disagreements and complaints made by citizens and the possible problems that could arise from said complaints, Julia Curry asked to speak. “I find it absolutely amazing… I have been to third world countries and the smallest villages with no plumbing, and I’m amazed at the city, that we can’t come together to do the most basic, simplest things. We have a group of people that all they do is create stuff. They harass the city council, they harass the city manager, and that’s their whole goal in life. Come on, we are better than that. We cannot keep going down this road. You’re costing the city money which is in turn going to cost you money… We eventually have to come together as a city.”
The Saint Patrick’s Day parade is well underway and going as planned for March.
Due to various council members and the mayor having spent several days prior to the council meeting in Charleston for networking, meeting with legislators, and requesting funding for various projects, several action items on the agenda for the meeting were put on hold until a later date.