Elizabethton planning commission suggests removing awnings on downtown stores; Mayor says they will stay

ELIZABETHTON, TN (WJHL) – Business owners in downtown Elizabethton are concerned after the city planning commission recently approved a recommendation to remove awnings or canopies from stores along historic Elk Avenue.

For years, the awnings have been well-known fixtures in downtown Elizabethton.

Business owners, like Andrea Edmondson, would go so far as to call the canopies an asset. She co-owns Merle Norman cosmetic shop.

“They just need to leave our canopies, because it encourages women to shop when there is inclement weather,” Edmondson said.

Jiggy Ray’s co-owner John Malone welcomes the conversation on revitalizing downtown but prefers the canopies remain untouched.

“You know the awnings, I think there [are] too many good things that they provide for the citizens of Elizabethton. I think they should leave them up in my opinion,” John Malone said.

Members of the Elizabethton Planning Commission say they want to spruce up downtown. They say that process should start with the removal of the awnings.

“We would like to see a vibrant downtown. A downtown that is thriving. A downtown with lots of restaurants and eating places. A downtown area that is open and fresh,” Vicky Manuel said.

Manuel serves on the city planning commission. At a meeting last week, members reviewed the capital improvement plan which was in fact on the agenda and ultimately voted on recommending to city council members that the awnings that line stores in the historic section of downtown be removed.

“The awnings are not going away, period,” Elizabethton Mayor Curt Alexander said.

Mayor Alexander says city council has no plans to remove the awnings. In fact, he says for the time being the city is paying for the awnings to be refurbished.

“Starting July 1st, we have another $140,000 budgeted for upgrading the roofing and drainage. So, we are not even considering tearing down the columns or the overhead.”

Those are settling words for business owners like Andrea Edmonson and John Malone.

The mayor says there could be a discussion about the awnings at the upcoming city council meeting on Thursday.

Copyright 2017 WJHL. All rights reserved.

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