The Cape Charles Town Council met Thursday to prioritize future work phases for the Cape Charles Community Trail. Phase III, which is the South Peach corridor is in place with work set to begin sometime in early 2017. Phase II, North Peach and Washington is in progress. A fly in the ointment is Patrick Hand’s Strawberry Street Station project, which shares real estate with the Mason Avenue portion of the trail. While the town has purchased part of the Hand property for a ‘plaza’, a discussion on the work, as well as how and when to proceed took place.
One issue is that Strawberry Street Station and the town’s parking lot, located directly behind will be sharing an entrance. As currently designed and meeting VDOT standards, the town could lose 5 or 6 parking spaces on Mason Avenue. According to project manager Bob Panek, he has been in contact with Mr. Hand, and that they have come up with a design which would include a two-way entrance. This entrance design would accommodate both Hand’s project and access to the town parking lot.
CORRECTION: Councilman Andy Buchholz contacted the Mirror and noted that the reference to the Strawberry Street Station project is misleading. He notes that this portion of the Trail Project is not related to Strawberry Street, and that the sidewalks and area in that location has been in dire need of work and repair for some time.
Councilwoman Natali requested that even as Phase III was beginning, work on the ‘plaza’ should begin as soon as possible. She noted that there is separate funding for the plaza outside of grant monies obtained for the community trail. Panek said that the design firm is ready to begin preliminary work on the plaza, and rough estimates are around $10k.
Councilman Buchholz argued that Phase IV of the project should focus mainly on Bay Avenue, “My opinion, but we need to concentrate on Bay…that is our main asset. Looking at the harbor, there are too many variables, things could change.”
Mayor Proto stated that he was concerned about moving too far in any direction after Phase III since the town was moving forward with its Main Street initiative, which could bring in additional design and planning expertise, as well as grant and funding sources.
The trail project is not without its critics. Many question the loss of parking on South Peach in the business district, where parking is already at a premium. Others have questioned the basic logic of the Master Plan, which includes features such as a dangerous ‘roundabout’ planned for the entrance to town at Fig and Randolph. The plan also calls for a ‘water taxi’ service at the harbor, which, as with many other features, does not specify who is supposed to pay and maintain it–a private company, or be publicly funded.
Consensus was to move forward on the design of the Strawberry Street plaza with hopes of completing the work by next summer.