Bike ordinance postponed until May 14

PARKERSBURG – An ordinance allowing sidewalk biking from Second Street to the historic district along Juliana Street was postponed Tuesday night after Mayor Bob Newell asked for more time for planning.

Newell requested the postponement during his executive message, asking council to delay action until May 14. Council unanimously approved the postponement.

Newell said the move will give more planning time to officials as they consider the route. He said sidewalks may be added into the ordinance because of state bike route requirements.

“I’d prefer to do all of the sidewalks at the same time,” he said.

The ordinance generated opposition among area bicycle enthusiasts when it passed first reading two weeks ago. Opponents insisted the move would cause issues along the busy road and was not the best route to the Julia-Ann Square Historic District.

Members of the Blennerhassett Bicycle Club said the ordinance would require them to use the sidewalk instead of allowing them to ride in the street.

Newell said the ordinance was phrased in such a way as to allow use of the sidewalk but not require it as an official bike path. He said the club and the Parkersburg Bicycle Board had not submitted a comprehensive biking plan for the city.

No one spoke publicly about the ordinance at Tuesday’s meeting and there was no discussion by council.

Prior to the meeting, the Urban Renewal Authority met to discuss a request by the Building Enforcement Agency to take possession of four properties. Those properties are Number 5 19th Street, 527 33rd St., 316 Staunton Ave. and 820 Wood St.

The authority unanimously approved taking the four properties by eminent domain. Development Director Ann Conageski said it takes about three to four weeks for the city to have the property appraised and to file the appropriate court documents. The entire process for claiming and removing such structures can take six months or more to complete, she said.