Langley loading zone seen as gone forever

In the mind of Langley’s mild-mannered grocer, Gene Felton, it’s gone forever.

“It does not appear we’ll get that loading zone back,” he said Thursday morning after a meeting Wednesday with Mayor Larry Kwarsick. “But it’s still my preference to get the old spot back.”

After taking some criticism at Monday’s city council meeting for eliminating the morning hours loading zone on Second Street just east of the Star Store parking lot in favor of more hours of public parking, Kwarsick met Wednesday with Felton, who owns the Star Store grocery and mercantile, and Jenn and Sieb Jurrians, who own Prima Bistro, a restaurant on the top floor of the same building and whose business also depended on the Second Street loading zone. It’s where truckers could safely and easily pull off the street and bring their goods into the businesses.

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“Everybody got to express their opinions,” Kwarsick said, adding that he has “no regrets” about his decision.

The one bit of consensus that came out of Wednesday’s meeting is that truck drivers won’t have to worry if they now double-park or park with one end sticking out where it doesn’t belong.

Kwarsick said the truck drivers will be assured they will not receive citations for improper parking while servicing businesses. He’ll have Police Chief Randy Heston put it in writing when he returns from vacation.

“The city has no interest in interfering with their parking habits,” Kwarsick said.

That’s no small thing to truck drivers, according to Felton. He said a Columbia Beer and Wine truck driver blocked one lane of traffic on Second Street last week when he found the loading zone was gone. “We have to pay for our own parking tickets,” he told Felton. Now there will be no such worries.

Otherwise, the mayor stuck to his decision that the traditional loading zone is gone, although Kwarsick said other options are being considered, perhaps for a temporary loading zone. Longer term, the issue will be discussed when Second Street is redesigned between Cascade and Anthes avenues for an upcoming makeover project. At Monday’s council meeting, he mentioned making the sidewalks wider for outdoor restaurant use and the like, an idea Felton agrees is unlikely to provide for a loading zone anywhere.

Felton said Kwarsick understands his concerns, but simply wants more parking. The decision makes approximately 10 spaces available for parking between 7 a.m. and 1 p.m. Before that, it was a designated loading zone during those hours.

Felton said he has no intention of trying to overturn Kwarsick’s decision. “I’m just going to go with the flow and encourage drivers to get here as early as possible,” he said.

As Kwarsick sees it, he wanted more public parking on Second Street and he achieved his goal, although he now wishes he had talked to more merchants beforehand.

“Intention is the mother of necessity,” he said. “But process is not my strong point.”

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