SHARON, PA. Business owners: Lane takes toll

SHARON, Pa. -- The city alleviated a traffic flow problem when it added a left turning lane for westbound West State Street traffic at Water Avenue, but some business owners said the move is hurting them.
"What you're doing is putting me and everybody else out of business," said Glenn Simnick, owner of Golden Memories, a jewelry store at 86 W. State St.
The city eliminated curbside parking in front of Golden Memories and The Phoenix, a restaurant at 100 W. State St., to make room for a through-traffic lane for westbound traffic. The existing westbound lane was converted into a left-turn only lane.
The price tag was $164,000.
Both Simnick and Maria Vournous, owner of The Phoenix, told city council Wednesday that they were never notified of the city's plans.
The job was just finished this week, and a policeman was in the restaurant Wednesday asking people to move their cars to clear what used to be the curb parking area, Vournous said.
"Why weren't we told?" she asked, adding that it appears the city is trying to drive her restaurant out of business.
Media coverage: Councilman George Gulla, noting the issue had been discussed by council numerous times, said the matter had been thoroughly covered in newspaper stories. Vournous said she never saw any of those stories.
"We don't want to see anybody leave," Gulla said.
"I have a quarter million [dollar] investment sitting over there. I'll go to Hermitage. I don't care," Simnick responded.
The city has never assisted The Phoenix in anything it's tried to do and this action was unfair, Vournous said.
When one councilman asked what it would take to make her happy, she replied, "I want out of this town. That's what I want."
Losing money: Her husband, James, said the luncheon trade at The Phoenix was off $150 Wednesday, a drop he attributed to the loss of a total of seven parking spaces on State Street because of the left-turn project.
Council members agreed the business owners should have received formal notification of the city's plans, but they gave no indication the city plans to undue its work.
The job was done in response to requests from numerous motorists, Mayor Robert T. Price said, noting the area is a bottleneck.
This could have been worked out if the business owners had been notified, Vournous said.
Simnick had a simpler solution.
The city should have just put up a "no left turn" sign. Not many motorists try to make a left turn at that location anyway, he said.
Gulla disagreed, saying he frequently notices a line of westbound traffic backed up on State Street behind someone trying to turn left onto Water Avenue.

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