Friday, February 08, 2002

Merchants mull over Monmouth

2-way street proposed

By Travis Gettys
Enquirer contributor

        NEWPORT — A proposal to change Monmouth Street from a one-way to a two-way street has brought mixed reaction from merchants along the business corridor.

        City Manager Phil Ciafardini said Newport by March will roll out a comprehensive package of the proposed changes and how they could affect traffic patterns, parking and deliveries.

        “We've been working on possible configurations of parking, both on-street and off-street, and we're trying to come up with creative ways to replace the parking that would be lost,” Mr. Ciafardini said.

        Many of the businesses fronting the street do not have rear entrances for deliveries. Double-parking — which is not uncommon — would have to be eliminated if traffic traveled in both directions.

        Mary Curtis, owner of The Thing Shop, 811 Monmouth St., said the city has assured her that parking spaces for deliveries would be made available on each block.

        Other business owners are concerned that loading zones and lanes to accommodate left turns could eliminate too much parking.

        “It's a good thing to do — if they have plenty of off-street parking,” said Marvin Polinsky, owner of Saul's Men's & Boys, 817 Monmouth St.

        “The only way I'd be for it is if they definitely have enough parking.”

        The switch was initially brought up during meetings about upgrading the streetscape, a plan that includes replacing overhead utility lines with underground lines, widening sidewalks and adding landscaping. Poles for new traffic lights, installed over the past couple of weeks, would hold lights for both northbound and southbound traffic, if the move is approved.

        Studies conducted by the city have indicated that changing Monmouth Street to two-way would help draw more of the projected 5 million to 7 million yearly visitors to Newport on the Levee and the Newport Aquarium southward into the business district.

        “There's a psychology that people have of walking against traffic,” Mr. Ciafardini said. “If you look at successful retail areas, (those with) two-way (streets) are the most successful in the country. Having a one-way street is like having an interstate running through downtown.”

        The effect of the new attractions may already have been felt in the business district.

        “Since they opened, we've noticed a different type of clientele,” said Richard Deaton, owner of Richard's Store & Tanning Salon, 720 Monmouth St.

        “We ask them, and people tell us they were at the aquarium or the shops.”

        Business owners who favored the proposal also cited increased visibility to workers who commute to and from Cincinnati.

        “People who go home up (one-way, southbound) York Street might see something different,” said Steve Chuke, owner of Jewel King Jewelers, 801 Monmouth St.

        Ms. Curtis agreed.

        “People would be going slower and paying more attention,” she said. “I'm all for it going back to two-way.”

        Chris Fickencher, owner of the Cookie Jar Bakery at 919 Monmouth St., opposes the switch, citing parking and delivery problems. However, he said his business could be affected in a more fundamental way, particularly if on-street parking were eliminated during morning rush hour.

        “I'm a morning business,” he said.

        “I don't know what the motive is, if they're trying to help the merchants or what,” Mr. Fickencher said.

        “We're looking for the right mix of businesses to make Monmouth Street a destination,” said Mr. Ciafardini.

        “We want uptown to benefit from visitors to Newport on the Levee and the Aquarium,” he said.


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- Merchants mull over Monmouth