Businessmen urge city council to reconsider closing Third Avenue



LOCK HAVEN — Several local business owners along Maple Street and Third Avenue voiced their concerns about the possible closure of the northernmost portion of Third Avenue on Monday night.

City council passed the ordinance on first reading on April 15.

William Slaterbeck, owner of Slaterbeck’s Auto Repairs at the corner of Maple Street and Third Avenue, is afraid the closure will hinder his business.

Slaterbeck opened the auto repair shop, formerly Forester’s Auto Repair, in August 2018.

“A lot of my business is drive-bys,” he said.

He continued, saying although he does advertise his business through newspaper and radio ads, he is reliant on word-of-mouth communication of his services.

“I just feel that, with me just opening this business and trying to establish it, shutting that road off where people come down through and see my sign and see my building is going to cut off all that access so they (drivers) are going to be forced to go over to the next road and they’re not going to see my business,” he said.

Gurney Wagner, owner of New Look Kitchen’s on Maple Street, said he is worried about the effect the closure will have on his delivery trucks.

Wagner said he typically has up to 10 delivery trucks a week bring items to his business at 700 Maple St.

They enter the business from Second Avenue and leave from Third Avenue, he said.

If the city closes a portion of Third Avenue, the delivery trucks will have to travel down to Woods Avenue to exit the area.

Wagner is concerned about the narrow residential streets that large delivery trucks such as a pick up truck with a long trailer or an 18 wheeler would have to take to get to Woods Avenue.

“And of course the last block you travel down to Woods Avenue is very steep for an 18 wheeler or for an individual to stop on especially in the winter time,” he said.

If council moves forward and closes the section of the roadway, Wagner said he would be affected but would push through it.

“But it’s an inconvenience, there’s no question about that,” he said.

Micah Clausen, owner of the former Bobbie Brook’s plant between Third Avenue and the city’s new garage, was the next to speak.

Clausen is worried about the affect the closure will have on the property value.

“I feel it will devalue my property for future sale,” he said. “For me to sell this property to someone who may want to put a retail store in there, would be difficult. You’re putting my parking lot at the end of a culdesac rather than the end of a main road coming off Bellefonte Avenue which is the main artery through this city.”

Clausen also mentioned he receives multiple delivery trucks at the property and is worried about how they will get to his parking lot.

He also expressed concerns about the possible increase of accidents on Second Avenue, which would see an increase in traffic due to the closure.

“We have three businesses here out of 10 on Third Avenue that this would affect,” he said.

When asked why the city is vacating the section of Third Avenue, City Manager Gregory Wilson had two reasons.

“The vacating of Third would enable two different things to take place,” he said. “One, it would increase the size of the city’s lot there but also enable the city to… give half to Murray Motors.”

The city had requested the road closure from PennDOT due to a need for more sufficient space to access their new garage, Wilson said.

A large salt shed, which will house salt for the city, Lock Haven University and the Keystone Central School District was constructed as well as a lean-to to provide storage for various pieces of equipment, Public Works Director Anthony Stopper said.

The closure of the portion of Third Avenue would create more space and make accessing the garage easier, Stopper said.

The northern-most portion of that section of Third Avenue would be gifted to Murray Motors, who has expressed an intention to expand their business.

“Well I’d really like to expand my business too, but chopping off that road is going to hinder that traffic past my establishment that I’m trying to establish,” Slaterbeck said.

Councilman Richard Conklin requested that Wilson reach out to Murray Motors and ask they attend the May 20 meeting to further understand their intentions to expand.

“My concern is if Murray Motors needs this access for them to be competitive in their business then I would like to hear from them if they have an opinion or not,” Conklin said.

Wilson offered to meet with concerned individuals about the road closure and help answer their questions as much as possible.

“We can continue discussion and conversation to see what aspects of their concerns can be addressed if possible. We can also invite Murray Motors to come the day of the consideration,” he said.

At the end of the meeting, Slaterbeck’s wife, Kimberly, invited council to come visit their business.

“I invite all of you to come and see what we’re doing and see the area down there,” she said. “Maybe visit some of the other businesses because we’re a part of Lock Haven, our businesses are all part of Lock Haven.”

“This is how we’re trying to make a living and you shutting this road could possibly make us close down because we’re not going to get the people coming through that road,” she continued. “So come visit before you make your decision.”

Council will vote on the final consideration of the closure of Third Avenue at 7 p.m. on Monday, May 20 during their regular meeting.