City hopes to catch up on construction by shutting down block
The city will close another block of Hickory Street, from Bell Avenue to Industrial Street, to through traffic for more than three weeks beginning Tuesday.
The city staff met Thursday and decided the closure could help bring Denton’s “grand street” reconstruction project back on schedule, according to city spokeswoman Lindsey Baker. The closed portion of Hickory should be reopened Sept. 19, weather permitting.
The city staff sent an email to area businesses after the meeting to let them know of the change in the construction schedule. Originally, the city planned on closing only half of Hickory Street at a time, in an effort to preserve business traffic for the area.
A total of 16 parking spaces on the south side of Hickory will be closed off, but the north side spaces will remain open, Baker said.
The project is behind schedule, and recent rains have caused more delays, Baker said.
The entire makeover will narrow Hickory to two lanes, widen the sidewalks, add more bike racks, define the crosswalks, and add trees and other landscaping from the Square to the train station.
Officials estimate the project will cost $3.1 million and be finished in late February or early March.
The project previously was planned to be finished at the end of this year.
Christye Price, the buyer for Noles General Store, was wary of the closure and how it might affect the shop, which stocks gifts and home decor. The store is in the middle of the block between Bell and Industrial.
“If they actually get it done by September, that will be good for us,” Price said. “November and December are make-or-break in the gift business.”
She wasn’t sure how many of her customers count on being able to park close to the store. The reconstruction work completed so far has wiped out the parking stripes on the north side of Hickory Street, she said.
Sometimes people patronizing other businesses block the store’s driveway, Price said.
Next door, at the Campus Barber Shop, owner Jeremy Carroll said the city is often slow about fixing roads and it can be a bit of a nuisance.
The shop moved from Fry Street, near the University of North Texas, to Hickory in 2011. Over on Fry Street, his customers still had a chance to park nearby, Carroll said.
The city renovated the Williams Square parking lot first, to help offset the loss of parking that would come with the various street and parking closures along Hickory this year. But Carroll, the other barbers and even some customers at the shop on Friday morning also wondered whether the city was premature in making Oakland Street a “no-parking zone” recently.
Customer Joe McCage said he would be comfortable walking the two blocks from Williams Square to get his haircut.
“But the older folks might have a problem,” McCage said.
Charlie Hunter, the head chef at Weinberger’s Deli, said he wasn’t thrilled when a co-worker called to relay news that the street would be closed.
When streets are closed for events or parades, customers post comments on the deli’s Facebook page about the parking problems.
“They tell us they can’t get to us,” Hunter said.
“I know it will be great to get it done; it’s just the timeline,” he added.
For more information, call the city of Denton at 940-349-8200.
PEGGY HEINKEL-WOLFE can be reached at 940-566-6881 and via Twitter at @phwolfeDRC.