Skateboarding, bicycling teens draw owner’s ire

Brad Hicks • Oct 15, 2013 at 4:56 PM

ERWIN — Lou Snider, owner of the Hawg-N-Dawg restaurant at the corner of Main Avenue and Union Street, used the citizen comments portion of Monday’s meeting of the Erwin Board of Mayor and Aldermen to discuss a concern that he said he and other business owners in the downtown area share.

Snider said teenagers often use downtown sidewalks for skateboarding and bicycling. While Snider said he holds no ill will toward the children who do this, he said this has the potential to hurt the business of shop owners downtown and opens them up to liability. Snider called on the board to take some type of action to address the sidewalk skateboarders and bicyclists.

“If a customer walks out of my store and someone runs them over with a bicycle on the street or on the sidewalk, I’m going to be liable for that,” Sinder said. “I have insurance, I’m covered, but it’s really something we shouldn’t really be having to address.”

Joey Lewis, owner of the Valley Beautiful Antique Mall, echoed Snider’s concerns.

“I’m afraid a lawsuit is coming, too, someday if we don’t do something about it,” Lewis said.

And the board took steps Monday to provide young skaters and bicyclists with a safer place to take part in these activities.

Members of the board present unanimously voted to approved a proposal from engineering firm Tysinger, Hampton & Partners to complete the geotechnical work needed for completion of the town’s proposed skate park/playground — now being referred to as Railyard Park — along Nolichucky Avenue in the downtown area. The proposal was in the amount of $3,010.

Representatives with the Nashville-based planning firm Kimley-Horn and Associates, which completed the town’s downtown revitalization master plan, recommended the park’s construction while working to complete the master plan. The first phase of the downtown revitalization project was recently completed, and town officials hope to begin second-phase construction early next year with the hopes that work on the phase will be complete by the summer.

In December 2011, the board approved the purchase of two parcels of property along Nolichucky Avenue for the project. In April, the board approved a grant contract between the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation and the town. Prior to this, Erwin had received a $127,000 grant from the state for the project, which requires a match from the town for the same amount. The town also has two years to complete the project from the time the contract was signed.

Gary Tysinger with Tysinger, Hampton and Partners told the board as soon as the purchasing agreement contract is signed, completion of the project would take around six months. Construction services will be handled by American Ramp Company. Erwin Mayor Doris Hensley, who said the town does have ordinances pertaining to skateboarders and bicyclists on sidewalks and would look to address the concerns of business owners in the meantime, said the town has approved spending up to $230,000 on the project.

In other business, the board:

Approved the second and final reading of an ordinance to rezone certain properties on South Industrial Drive, Jackson Love Highway and Berkshire Drive from R-1 Residential District to B-2 Business District.

Approved a proposal from Tysinger, Hampton and Partners for revisions to the Erwin Linear Trail parking lot along North Industrial Drive.

Approved a truck route plan for the town’s downtown district. Through this, the town would suggest that 18-wheelers and other larger vehicles be routed up Fourth Street and onto Elm Avenue rather than on Main Avenue in the downtown area. Officials said this is because the recently renovated roadway was designed for light-duty traffic.

Approve the closure of Church Street at the Love Street intersection to Tucker Street from 5-8 p.m. Oct. 31 for the Erwin Downtown Business Association’s annual Halloween event.

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