Downtown Corbin business owners, who are located between First and Monroe Street, came to the Corbin City Commission Monday night asking that the city reopen Monroe Street to traffic.
The street between Main and Depot Street was closed in 2013 as planning for the pedestrian walkway continued as part of new streetscape master plan.
JeNell Winchester, owner of Hear Better Hearing Aids, spoke on behalf of the business owners.
Winchester presented the commission with a letter signed by each of the business owners on the block requesting the change.
“The reason being is it really hinders our business,” Winchester said. “If people are going down Main Street and they can’t park, they don’t circle. They just keep going right on by and they don’t turn around and come back.”
Winchester said since the street was closed, it has not been utilized in any way with the exception of the four days of NIBROC in August.
“We are not opposed to it being closed during special events,” Winchester said. “We will work with you.”
Corbin Downtown Director Andy Salmons said Monroe Street was closed to act as a pedestrian corridor between Main Street and the proposed railroad museum at the Depot, and the bus parking.
“It was meant to be a place without car traffic that we could funnel the tourists visiting our community up to Main Street,” Salmons said adding there would be a kiosk directing tourists to the different businesses and attractions along Main Street.
“That was always meant to be a phase II,” Salmons said explaining it is part of the improvements to the parking lot on Depot Street. “We actually intended to do it quickly. Due to funding issues we ended up being delayed in executing that.”
Salmons said the plans for Monroe Street are also in the master plan that will be discussed at a public meeting at 6 p.m. Thursday at city hall.
“We paid a significant amount of money for that plan and it hinges around using Monroe Street as a pedestrian corridor,” Salmons added
Salmons said he spoke with Jim Bruso, owner of Game King at the corner of Main and Monroe, in an effort to find a solution.
Salmons said Monroe Street would be reopened to traffic. However, the ordinance closing it will remain in place.
“In the short term we will open it back up, allowing traffic to flow back through there,” Salmons said. “In the medium term, I will work with Jim and a few others to make sure we have good signage pointing back towards the parking lots on Depot Street. In the long term, whenever we are ready, once the train museum is a little further along and we’ve got the master plan complete, then we can go and complete the pedestrian corridor. Then it allows us to not close it until we are ready and it actually has a direct economic benefit to the businesses in the downtown.”
Salmons said he understands that the parking lots are not being used as intended and part of the goal of the master plan is to provide signage that will direct motorists to the parking lots.
“That way, when Main fills up as it does throughout the day and evening, it is easy and obvious to get back over there,” Salmons said.
Salmons said the parking lot on Depot Street between First and Monroe Street needs to be reconfigured.
Winchester replied that closing the street long-term is not feasible.
“We want good traffic flow in and out of our businesses,” Winchester said.
Salmons said the goal with the master plan is to increase foot traffic downtown by providing better way finding.
Winchester said she understands the plan but that it appears to be at the expense of the business owners on that block.
Commissioner Ed Tye made a motion to take the matter under advisement pending the results of Thursday’s meeting.
Salmons said the next step after Thursday’s meeting would be to finalize the master plan document and present it to the commission for final approval.
In other business the commission:
- Approved the second reading of an ordinance setting the dates, times and location for the additional regular meetings and establishing them as workshop sessions. The first workshop session will be held Monday.
- Approved the first reading of an ordinance amending a 2012 ordinance regulating the discharge of firearms in the city. The amendment permits the discharge of firearms on property zoned rural residential.
- Authorized Mayor Willard McBurney to sign a proclamation declaring April 6 as World War I Remembrance Day in Corbin. The date marks the 100th anniversary of the United States entry into the war in 1917.
- Appointed Jeanie Hensley, Mark Sheppard and Iswar Patel to serve on the Corbin Tourism Commission. They will take the places of Theresa Carpenter, Tom Rose and Alan Onkst.