Graham parking spaces disappearing

GRAHAM, N.C. -- There is a need for safety around Graham’s courthouse square.

Traffic patterns and parking have not changed for decades.

As the city looks to make changes, some people say it will take away their convenience.

People are "...taking precautions as they walk around the centerpiece in the city of Graham,” said Janée Farrar, owner of Forgotten Road Ales.

“We have had a few incidents where pedestrians were hit in the square,” said Nathan Page, Planning Director for the city.

With a traffic pattern that hasn’t changed much since the 60s, city leaders are looking to improve the area and make it more friendly for people.

“One of the recommendations that the consultant has put forth is to narrow the travel lanes,” Page said.

Earlier this year, the mayor announced that the stormwater system needed repairs and it would mean parking spaces would have to go in the court square.

“We have a water line that’s more than 100 years old. There are sewer lines that need to be replaced,” Page said.

That also prompted the city to hire a consulting company to draft ideas to revitalize the area. Better crosswalks and a parking deck were suggested by the company.

Some people are for the changes, but others like bakery owner Paul Harden, are not happy with what they’ll lose: parking spaces around the court square.

“Everybody’s not going to park down the street two blocks away and walk up to Graham, especially in the wintertime,” Harden said.

“I know we’re going to be losing some parking if this plan is executed. We have plenty of city parking lots here that are not filled to capacity,” Farrar said.

The director of Graham’s city planning says they are trying to balance what they have now with what they could have for the future.

“Keep downtown Graham a place that is on the trajectory that it’s on now where we are having additional shops open, additional people come downtown but also remain a place that people who have been coming here for years want to keep coming to,” Page concluded.

The consulting company will present a draft plan for the city council to vote on in September.

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