05/12/11 — Debate continues over Park Avenue closure decision

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Debate continues over Park Avenue closure decision

By Ty Johnson
Published in News on May 12, 2011 1:46 PM

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Jeff McBarron, vice chairman of the Goldsboro Parks and Recreation Board, looks at what steps would be needed to remove the poles that are currently blocking off traffic on Park Avenue.

Despite some discussion of the continued mystery as to how Herman Park's Park Avenue thoroughfare was closed and remained closed for more than a year, the Recreation and Parks Advisory Commission answered City Council's call Wednesday for ideas on how to reopen the road safely.

The ideas will be presented May 16 at the next council meeting. Council voted to reopen the road after some public protest over the closure -- and questions about who directed the action.

Former commission chairperson Betsy Wharton asked for clarification about the road's closing, but the commission instead turned to the task at hand -- coming up with suggestions for how to have the road open to vehicles and still keep children and pedestrians safe.

"All of that's in the past," Chairman Jerry Phillips said, although his opening statement on the issue made clear that he felt the best way to keep pedestrians safe was to keep the road closed.

The first suggestion was to add speed bumps to slow traffic, to which Interim Recreation and Parks Director Sherry Archibald added the option of traffic calming areas -- wide, slowly sloping speed deterrents that would designate the area as a low-speed road.

Roy Parker Jr., a resident whose rendering was submitted to council during the public hearing, was present at the meeting, and noted that, if nothing else, the speed limit should be lowered from 25 mph.

Parker's concept involved putting in crosswalks on the east and west sides of the road before it reaches the roundabout and one through the fountain area. He also laid plans for a fence to direct pedestrians toward the appropriate crossing areas, but that wasn't well-received universally.

Although most of the commission's suggestions were ones that had been voiced during the City Council's public hearing, one idea from board member Dexter Yelverton was an innovative concept that Parker and a number of other members supported.

Yelverton suggested making the Park Avenue corridor a one-way street, which would cut down on through-traffic and make the park a bit safer while still allowing accessibility for park visitors.

The commission also proposed putting the original gates back up and closing the section of Park Avenue which runs through Herman Park. Members noted that Saturdays and Sundays were the busiest days at the park, so limiting traffic then would provide safety when the most children were present.

Rather than present one, best idea, Phillips said the commission would submit all of its ideas, with a suggestion that one or a combination of the safety measures be implemented in accordance with the council's decision to leave the street open.