Vote To Abandon Outlet Avenue Upsets Neighbors

Several Jamestown residents voiced their displeasure with the planned renovations for Ben Weitsman of Jamestown.

On Monday, the Jamestown City Council held a public hearing on the proposal to abandon a portion of Outlet Avenue between West Eighth Street and Isabella Avenue. The area is being abandoned to be used for the Greater Jamestown Riverwalk and to improve conditions at Ben Weitsman of Jamestown, located at 610 W. Eighth St. Weitsman’s is a scrap metal recycling business.

Rhonda Swanson, a Lafayette Street resident who lives near the business, said by giving the business city property it will widen their footprint on the residential area. She said the business is very loud and produces a tremendous amount of dust and dirt in the neighborhood.

”I don’t believe they are a healthy choice for the city, and definitely not for my neighborhood,” she said.

Another area resident told City Council that their aluminum ladder was stolen, and he believes it ended up being sold to Weitsman. Another local resident said the business has progressively become worse through the years with the amount of noise it causes and the dust and debris it stirs up in the neighborhood.

Bill Rice, city principal planner, and Paul Andalora, city Planning Commission member, told the residents when the project is completed less dust and dirt will be in the area. Also, no city money is being used to potentially make the neighborhood more pleasant.

The Planning Commission approved a retention pond and pavement project in August, which the city’s Zoning Board of Appeals approved in September. A 4-foot-deep retention pond and 91,000-square-foot paved area will be part of the project to reduce the amount of airborne dust in the surrounding area that presents health concerns for local residents and people working in the area. The paving of a high percentage of the site is supposed to alleviate the airborne pollution generated by the business’ operations. There will be a new additional office building, a new recovery building and a new scale added as part of the project. The state Department of Environmental Conservation has also approved the project.

City Council’s vote to approve the abandonment of Outlet Avenue was passed 7-2. Tamara Dickey, Ward 3, and George Spitale, At-Large, voted against the resolution. Spitale said he could relate with the neighbors’ concerns. When he was young, he said his family lived near a business that created issues in the neighborhood.

”I cannot support the resolution,” he said.

Marie Carrubba, Ward 4, who voted for the proposal, said she sympathizes with the residents and they have valid concerns. However, she said doing nothing to alleviate the problem isn’t a solution.

”(We) have to do something to improve the situation,” she said.

The area is also being prepared for Phase V of the Riverwalk project, which is the Chadakoin Park Trail and bike path from McCrea Point Park to Clifton Avenue. The trail will include a blacktop bike and pedestrian path over the former J&W railroad that runs along the Chadakoin River from West Eighth Street to Clifton Avenue, near Fluvanna Avenue; additional blacktop trails will lead from the main path to a nature trail and river observation platform; decorative lighting; park amenities like benches, picnic tables and trash cans; and landscaping including trees and grass.