New sidewalks a huge downtown improvement

BY CHUCK WITT

Sun Reporter

This column is an echo of the kudos extended by Nancy Turner, tourism commission director, to the city for work going on in downtown Winchester.

Most especially the ongoing work on the sidewalks of Winchester is a welcome contribution to the atmosphere of the downtown and is certainly coming at a good time.

The handicap ramp at the corner of Lexington Avenue and Main Street will provide much needed access to the high side of Main Street, access which was previously limited to the sidewalk entry located at the intersection of Lexington Avenue and Church Alley and the handicap ramp located across from the Clark County Courthouse.

Perhaps it should be noted here that the ramp at the mid-block probably does not meet the full requirements of the ADA but at least it provides some means of access that was more limited before its installation.

The city has plans to rework the steps at the intersection of Main and Broadway streets, probably this year, with the addition of a handicap ramp there. Those steps have been not only an eyesore but a danger because of their uneven heights and the lack of adequate handrails.  It is a most complex intersection and it’s likely that there is no one still alive who can remember when they were fabricated in their current state.

It is also likely that there is no one who would dispute the necessity of a good deal more remedial sidewalk work in the downtown area.  It appears the dedication is there.  It takes time.

Turner’s complimentary comments were more specifically directed to the reworking of the sidewalk and steps on the north side of Cleveland Avenue.

The work that was just completed there undoubtedly caused some disruption in the activities of the storefronts but the end result is one that provides greater safety for pedestrians and corrects other problems as well.

The walk was in horrible condition. The steps at its west end were broken, cracked, uneven and without adequate handrails. The elevation of the walk from the street level resulted in a concrete wall abutting the street. One can only wonder at the number of vehicles which have been damaged trying to parallel park in that location when they rear-ended the wall.

Now the two-level walk has moved that wall back from the street with a lower walk and curb adjacent to the street, and a guardrail has been installed along the higher walk which is at the level of the storefront entries.  There was never a rail there before and a wonder that no one ever toppled off the walk.

A ramp at the west end of the elevated walk would have solved the problem of accessibility there, but the solution in place now deals with two problems, which a new ramp would not have done.

Another great improvement, thought not strictly in the downtown area, is the demolition of a very ugly and out-of-place building located at 115 E. Lexington Ave.

The building was built in the late 1940s or early 1950s and was an eyesore from its completion. It was completely out of character for the neighborhood in which it was built and is about as good an example as one could find in support of a strong planning and zoning ordinance, which was not in place when this building was constructed.

 Hopefully an empty lot there will find a usage more in keeping with the neighborhood ambiance.

Good riddance.

Chuck Witt is a retired architect and a lifelong resident of Winchester. He can be reached at chuck740@bellsouth.net.