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Letter To The Editor: Maple Ave. Attorney Not Happy With Pace Of Construction
By William T. Wilson
Covington, VA (Feb. 17, 2021):

Dear Jerry:

     I know to some of you this may seem like “whining.” Who wants to feel sorry for a lawyer put upon by his City? But it is a pretty sad story regardless of who the victim is. Here’s the story:

     Back in August 2020, businesses on Maple Avenue in Covington, between Locust Street and Main Street, received word that the City of Covington would be putting in new sidewalks, street lights and paving in that block, on Maple Avenue, just as the City had done up the street in front of the Virginian Review, the movie theater, the Episcopal Church and other businesses. Thinking that construction would be fairly quick, the businesses on our block, including Dr. Wheeler’s dentist office, Alleghany Floral Boutique, Granbery Methodist Church, Donna Craft’s restaurant and my office did not make waves. After all, this is our City and these were public improvements to make the area more attractive.

     Well, I can’t speak for the other businesses but my law office is in the middle of the block and not only has that block on Maple Avenue been closed to the public between Locust Street and Main Street, but because of the heavy equipment on Maple Avenue and a giant hole where the alley between the church and my office is located, the entrance to my law office (Law Office of William T. Wilson) has been blocked for about six months! My law practice is almost entirely plaintiffs personal injury cases so my clients usually have serious personal injuries. Getting them into my office under normal conditions is hard enough, but when the City makes it almost impossible for them to get into my office, that is a real problem.

     So, what did I do? After waiting more than a reasonable time for the project to be completed, I started calling Mayor Tom Sibold and other council members for help. I even called the City’s attorney, Mark Popovich, and VDOT officials. All of them were sympathetic but no one had a solution. I found out the sidewalk in places had apparently been improperly poured and that there were other delaying factors but no one offered to compensate me for my loss. As far as I know, none of the other businesses have been offered compensation for their loses. At one point, I told Tom Sibold that they had me blocked every way except for those who could come down Locust Street and find their way up an alley to the back of my office but a day or two later when I came to work, guess what, I found Locust Street had been closed also. Locust Street re-opened shortly thereafter but it was just another blow.

     I cannot speak for other businesses on Maple Avenue that have been adversely affected but I think if you talked to them, they would say they are as frustrated and disappointed with the way the City has handled this project as I am.

     So, what should I do? The City and its attorney have no solution. Should I sue the City for damages? I certainly am thinking about it, although I hate to sue my own City. I guess I am just frustrated and disappointed that my own City, to which I have been paying taxes for 57 years, seems to be saying, “We’re sorry we’ve done you so much damage, but we have nothing to offer you by way of compensation.” In the letter we received from the City last August, we were told that we business people would be constantly advised as the project moved along, but that has not happened.

     In addition, the City took our handicap ramp out which was in front of the Methodist church on Maple Avenue. I fussed about that but the City would not yield. I belong to Granbery Church and we have a lot of senior citizens. It is a real hardship to lose this access to the church.

     Anyway, this is my sad story. I thought the public should know about it.

                              Very truly yours,

                              Bill Wilson


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