SHARON City council decides to curb turn lane

City officials fear the state might want back the $121,000 it provided.
SHARON, Pa. -- West State Street merchants were angry when they arrived at the Sharon City Council meeting Thursday, but they were smiling when they left an hour later.
They had persuaded city council to reverse a nearly completed project that added a turning lane at West State Street and North Water Avenue.
The business people said the city never consulted them or even discussed the plan with them before adding the turning lane for westbound traffic on State Street, a process that eliminated curbside parking in front of their stores.
Some accused the city of trying to put them out of business and some said they were being treated unfairly, but their bottom line was that they wanted the city to put the road back the way it was.
"Do we have to bring attorneys in here?" asked Glenn Siminich, owner of Golden Memories, a jewelry store at 84 E. State St.
The debate lasted about 45 minutes before Councilman Lou Rotunno introduced a motion to eliminate the new parking lane and put the road back the way it was.
The motion includes a request to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (State Street is a state highway) to allow the city to replace the old traffic light with one that shows a left turn arrow for westbound traffic on State Street at the intersection.
The motion passed 4-1 with Councilman George Gulla dissenting, noting that not everyone is unhappy with the turning lane.
Making payments: Ironically, council voted to make a second payment a few minutes later to Post Construction of New Castle, the company hired to put in the turning lane. Post has now been paid $73,000 on its $165,000 contract and some work remains to be done, including putting in new traffic lights and light poles.
The city pushed for the change to ease the flow of traffic which officials said can back up two blocks in a short time behind a westbound car waiting to make a left turn at Water Avenue.
Sharon used $121,000 in state grant funds to help finance the project.
The problem facing the city now is the fear that the state might want that money back because the city is eliminating the turning lane.
Mayor Robert T. Price said he will check on that possibility.
Fred Hoffman, council president, said returning the parking spaces to West State Street won't resolve the concerns of a number of handicapped persons, some of whom attended Thursday's meeting, and who pointed out there are no handicapped parking spots on either West State Street or East State Street in the business district.
Siminich said the merchants favor having some spaces reserved for handicapped use.

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