Paducah, KY – McCracken Circuit Judge Craig Clymer is expected to rule next week on a Paducah zoning board's decision to block Greyhound buses from using the Paducah Area Transit Authority terminal in Lower Town. Chris Taylor brings us up to date on the issue and talks to one Lower Town resident about her concerns.
Kathleen Sullivan Cockrel recently moved to Lower Town a couple doors down from the PATS terminal. She and her husband built a house last year among the historic district's brick and wood-paneled facades. She knows first-hand about the stringent requirements set by the residential zoning ordinance.
Cockrel- It's made to look like an older home to fit into the neighborhood to be appropriate. So we had to through several different reviews and changes to make sure that this house appeared to be a historic home.
Cockrel says she whole-heartedly supports the idea behind Lower Town's zoning, but now feels like
Cockrel- A lot of us in the neighborhood are kind of feeling like we've been sold out without too much thought or feedback from the community.
She's talking about a lawsuit filed by PATS to overturn a Historic and Architectural Review Commission ruling which denied the transit authority permission to lease space to Greyhound at its Lower Town facility on Ninth and Harrison. PATS argues it can extend its government exemption from zoning to the national bus chain, which wants out of its current facility on Fourth Street. The deal would be a definite financial positive for the city, opening up PATS' eligibility for federal grants that promote such joint operations.
Cockrel- So really all we've asked for is to just put the brakes on a little bit and stop and do an impact study.
Cockrel says that hasn't happened. Paducah Mayor Bill Paxton did recently meet with several Lower Town residents and business owners to hear their concerns. The Paducah Sun reports Paxton supports the multi-modal facility, despite numerous crime and safety concerns. With a nine-year-old son who likes to bike the neighborhood, Cockrel says she's mostly concerned about the safety aspect.
Cockrel- I don't feel personally that Greyhound or any commercial bus line should be picking up or dropping off in any residential neighborhood, not just Lower Town.
Cockrel used to work in Florida for a commercial bus line. She says the coaches can't stop quickly and their visibility is sometimes limited. Opening her back door, she points from the veranda to an alley running behind the property where Greyhound coaches may loop around.
Cockrel- I'll be listening to the sounds and smells of diesel motor coaches while I try to sip my coffee.
Noise is another issue. She stands opposite the road from several PATS buses idling near the garage. They come and go throughout the day, but are absent every evening after six and on Sundays. If Greyhound is allowed to operate its 4 coaches there every day of the year
Cockrel- There would be no more quiet evenings. This would keep PATS open until after ten at night.
Cockrel says the proposed location in Lower Town doesn't seem like a logical move for a national bus stop. Customers traveling to Paducah will get off in the middle of a residential neighborhood, with no concentration of banks, restaurants, or hotels for blocks. Regardless of all the minor details, what Judge Clymer will be deciding is whether or not a city government can supersede its own rules to benefit both itself and a national corporation; while seemingly turning a deaf ear to Cockrel and her neighbors. It's a sensitive issue, with some city workers even fearing retribution for taking sides in the fight.
At this time, the city of Paducah has no comment.