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Past commander objects to city decision

Due to the city removing the handicapped parking sites in front of American Legion Post 29, I am compelled to write against this decision. The city cites it is a safety issue and they do not want any parking on Railroad Avenue. But apparently it is OK to leave two large marked “Bus Parking Only” locations with signs near the railroad depot.

In addition there are several parking spots directly in front of the depot across Railroad Avenue adjacent to Davis Trust Company parking area. Furthermore, there are several other parking spots in front of the mini businesses where the barber shop was located. And those spots by the old Delmonte Hotel are also on Railroad Avenue.

When are all these parking spots going to be removed? This appears like discrimination if you take away the handicapped spots from the Legion yet let the others stay. In reference to the “Bus Parking Only” locations, it appears to me that this is far more of a safety factor when the passengers are discharged from the buses right into the street.

I would estimate about 12 percent of Elkins’ residents are handicapped and many of these are veterans. There are several veterans organizations that hold their monthly meetings in the American Legion. This includes the American Legion and its Ladies Auxiliary, Vietnam Veterans of American Chapter 812 and the Elkins Marine Corps League.

There are over 40 veterans in two Vietnam veterans’ group counseling sessions that are held in the Legion weekly. Many of these veterans from these groups are handicapped due to their combat injuries and advancing age. They have enough problems trying to attend any of these meetings and having a few handicapped spots in front of the Legion for them in necessary.

Placing them on only on Fourth Street just adds to their struggle to attend a meeting or to just come and socialize with other veterans. The first handicapped spot on Fourth Street is always filled with water after any heavy rainstorm and it is a deterrent for anyone to park in that spot.

This issue needs more discussion by the collective few on the city council who believe Elkins is going to be a major metropolitan area and that they need to take steps to prepare for the huge influx arriving. The Elkins 2010 population was slightly over 7,100 citizens and the 2020 will be lower. The growth of Elkins is declining and I would estimate the 2020 census will show a further decline. There are many residents age 65 and older and by the next census the population will be probably be about 6,000.

If the city believes the area along Railroad Avenue is a hazard, perhaps they should instead lower the speed limit and enforce it, and put up a flashing light near the depot. A flashing light was installed at the crossing for the multi-million dollar Rail-to Trail bike path – an overly expensive tourist venue which is hardly used — so why not put a light on a highly traveled street?

If the general public believes the city made a decision to remove the handicapped parking spots in front of the American Legion because three members of the city council thought it was a good idea at the time, then contact your elected council member and voice your thoughts. Remember the elections are right around the corner.

Those parking spots need to remain in front of the American Legion. Handicapped veterans have suffered enough and they don’t need anything else added to their problems.

Roger Ware

Past Commander

American Legion Post 29

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