Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Staunton's entryway to the city ... Rt. 250

Downtown Staunton has enjoyed a revitalization the past 10 years as overhead electrical wires have been buried underground, granite curbs and brick sidewalks installed, wireless computer service available, and many store fronts restored. Upstairs apartments have been updated and rented out; the old YMCA was turned into high-end condominiums that house some of the bigger names in town.

Restaurants are abundant with a variety of ambiences and dishes to suit most any taste. Shenandoah Pizza on Beverley Street boasts innovative pizzas and live music on select nights. Baja Bean Company is eclectic in its clientele and decor, and gives a glimpse into the night life of Staunton. The Dining Room offers intimate dining from an up-scale menu while Byers Street Bistro in The Wharf and The Depot at the train station are more casual with a homier menu of food choices.

Currently the former prison complex at the intersection of Rt. 250 and Greenville Avenue is being renovated by a large company out of Richmond which is turning it into condos, shops, and green space.

Unfortunately, the Rt. 250 (Richmond Road) entryway into the city is not the most attractive feature. While the box stores and chain restaurants at its intersection with I-81 are to be expected -- and I see nothing wrong with those businesses at that location -- Richmond Road could be spruced up to offer a more inviting entry into the downtown area. Old buildings could be repaired and repainted; gastly brightly-colored buildings could be toned down.

Today I noticed something else detracting on Richmond Road -- the overhead electrical wires -- because they interfered with something I was trying to see. As I turned off Statler Boulevard onto Richmond Road heading east, I noticed an American flag outside one of the businesses, and then another flag several buildings beyond, and then I saw the American flag in National Cemetery about an eighth of a mile ahead that stood out over everything else. It was awe-inspiring to see those flags waving in the breeze but the view was partially obstructed by the multitude of overhead wires and utility poles.

It occurred to me that Staunton could bury utility cables underground along Richmond Road, just as they had done downtown, which would help the appearance of the gateway into the city. That improvement could create a better first impression for the thousands of visitors and tourists who visit annually.

It is nice to see this beautiful city alive and thriving. Perhaps City Council will address the issue of Richmond Road in the future.

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