Neighbors object to plan to extend Blue St.

ROMNEY — Safety issues with plans to place a new Romney Elementary School on the site of the old hospital were raised by both the Potomac Center and the county special services center at the Hampshire County Development Authority meeting last week.

 “We support the school 110 percent,” Potomac Center CEO Rick Harshbarger said, but not the plan to extend Blue Street to provide access to it.

The plan to extend the roadway that runs through the Potomac Center property caught him by surprise, though it is not the first time this has been suggested.

“We’re on a dead-end street for a reason,” Harshbarger said. “We have no fences, no locks.” The Potomac Center has a highly vulnerable population and tries to give them freedom of movement, using Blue Street for bicycles, skateboards and therapy walks.

On the industrial park side of the planned extension, traffic would run down Veteran Boulevard, raising similar safety issues for users of the Hampshire County Special Services Center, which occupies buildings on both sides of the street.

HCSSC Director Kevin Sanders pointed out that people go back and forth across the road from program to program all day, commenting “even with speed limits and crosswalks up, I know how people drive.”

Harshbarger suggested a Depot Street entrance as an alternative for access to the new school, if space could be taken from the gas station on the corner of Route 28 to give room for buses to turn.

Development Authority President Greg Bohrer pointed out the primary purpose of putting the proposal out there was to get such input. It is important that they make sure the bond passes, he said, and safety will be taken into account then.

Development Authority Executive Director Eileen Johnson also noted everything is contingent on the bond passing, adding that no matter what happens with the school bond vote, the old hospital building will be taken down and they will market the property. o


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