The idea came up during a recent Downtown Merchants Association meeting, according to Robin Pace, president of the association. After some discussion in the meeting a motion was carried to bring it before the city's traffic committee for consideration. "We're going to see what happens, see if they like it," Pace said.
The idea will be addressed during the next traffic committee meeting scheduled for 4 p.m. Wednesday in the C.D. Matthews Room at City Hall, according to Steve Lee, street superintendent for the city and chairman of the committee.
Chuck Grant said he was the one who suggested the change during the Downtown Merchants Association meeting. "If you'll look at any downtown area you have one street running one way then you have another street one block down running the other way," he said.
Accordingly, Grant's idea is for Center Street to be changed into a one-way street running eastbound between Stoddard and Kingshighway, the same two streets that bound the westward one-way section on Front Street. "From Kirby's to the Catholic Church," he said.
Grant said his motivation is revitalizing the downtown area: If this would improve the flow of traffic and make it easier to get around downtown, more people would frequent the area.
"It's been a hot topic of discussion around here for a few weeks," said Susie Kenedy of Susie's Bake Shop and Restaurant, one of the businesses located on the section of Center Street in question.
"I'm not opposed to it at all but I've talked to customers about it," she said. "Most of the customers I've talked to are opposed to it. They're used to it the way it is and change is difficult."
But then, some changes can be for the better: If the street was made one-
way, it may be possible to increase parking by putting in slanted parking spaces like those on Front Street. Many motorists also find slanted parking spaces easier to use than parallel-parking spaces along the curb.
"If it increases parking on this street, than I think it would be a favorable move," Pace said. "If it does not increase the parking I don't know what the advantage would be."
Lee said the traffic committee will be happy to take the issue up. "It's important to enliven the downtown area," he said.
"People who are for it or against it really need to be there," Pace said. She said input on both sides of the issue is needed and should be voiced during the meeting "rather than wait and write about it in SpeakOut afterward."
Even the idea's originator is looking forward to hearing thoughts on both sides of the issue. "I'm not just set on this thing its just a thought that I had," Grant said. "We'll wait to see what happens Wednesday."