10/24/08 — Public safety tops list for Walnut Creek crowd at community meeting

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Public safety tops list for Walnut Creek crowd at community meeting

By Anessa Myers
Published in News on October 24, 2008 1:46 PM

WALNUT CREEK -- The Village Council of Walnut Creek held its second town hall meeting Wednesday with about 20 residents attending.

But this time, residents were most interested in improving public safety.

"It takes between seven and nine minutes for emergency personnel to reach us out here," Robert Rizzo said.

He feels the village should invest in an automated external defibrillator for the Police Department to help those who can't wait that long for cardiac help.

"Walnut Creek doesn't own a defibrillator, and there are none in police vehicles. I understand we have police coverage about 80 to 100 hours a week. I would rather have 80 to 100 hours a week of coverage with a defibrillator than none," Rizzo said.

Village officials said they had talked a few years ago about sharing one with the Walnut Creek Country Club, but resident Dr. Bryson Bateman didn't think that idea would be the best one.

"Sharing a defibrillator with the country club is ridiculous," he said. "This is a public safety issue. We've got an aging community out here. If you have it anywhere in the community, we need to have it with the public safety officials. We are too far away to rely on emergency personnel."

He added that defibrillators don't cost that much money -- maybe a few thousand dollars.

Mayor Darrell Horne agreed the village should invest in a defibrillator, and it should be with the police officers.

Shortly after, at the regular council meeting, council members approved the village acquiring three defibrillators -- one for the village office and two for police vehicles.

Police Chief Delisa Staps said there was money available in the current year's budget for the safety equipment, and at such a minimal price, she recommended the council go ahead and approve buying the defibrillators instead of going through a grant process.

"This little bit of money could make a big difference," she said to the council.

During the town hall meeting, residents also had issues with other areas of safety.

Jim Clough said he wanted to highlight the safety issue "in the context of people walking, speeding, running stop signs and that sort of stuff."

He did not, however, support the idea of nature trails.

"When people get away from houses, off into nature, that's where bad things happen," he said, adding that people are likely to still walk on the roads anyway.

"Our roads are not wide enough. They're dark. ... I don't think we have a healthy situation there, but it won't stop people from walking," Clough said. "We do have small kids here, and we need to protect them and the people walking. I'm asking for a harder look for walking or biking paths closer to our roads. ... That's where they're going to (walk and bike). Who knows what's in our woods?"

Other residents felt the same as Clough, and advocated for sidewalks, more lighting and even speed bumps.

"We need to have a place to push strollers," Marilyn Bateman said. "We don't have a safe place for families to walk."

She said she brought up the idea of sidewalks a few years ago, and village officials told her that the venture would be too costly. But, if the village set up a plan, and built sidewalks a little bit at a time, it wouldn't be so "cost prohibitive," she said. "Plan and then try to implement it."

She also said she thought the village speed limit of 30 mph is too high.

"People see 30, then they go 35. And the next thing you know, they are up to 40 or 45," she said.

Planning board member Woody Woodson said he had an opportunity to look over the police and public safety issues for the village survey, and that most of the respondents indicated that they didn't feel safe.

But, he said he didn't believe the village needed more police to chase speeders and stop sign runners. Rather, he said that it should be up to the community to work on making it safer together.

"People just need to think about what they're doing," he said.

Afterward, at the regular council meeting, board members decided to go ahead with lowering Lake Wackena this year, but to look at lowering the lake every two or three years instead of every year, even though Horne said that the consulting group that is looking at the lake status said that lowering it every year isn't a problem.

The council decided to proceed with the lowering this year to allow residents who want to build or repair a sea wall to do so.

Officials will start the draw -down of Lake Wackena the first Monday after New Year's Day. The lake will be lowered until the end of February.

Council members said they would not lower Spring Lake unless there is a request from a resident that would allow them to only lower it partially because of past problems refilling it.