06/23/11 — Council close to final vote on opening street in park

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Council close to final vote on opening street in park

By Ty Johnson
Published in News on June 23, 2011 1:46 PM

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Among the suggestions for implementing safety measures to protect children at Herman Park along Park Avenue is one initiative to close one of the two entrances to the park and grass it over to decrease through traffic.

Nearly three months after seven citizens spoke out at a public hearing on the closing of Park Avenue through Herman Park, there should finally be a decision on what the City Council would like done with the road.

The bollards preventing traffic from passing through the roundabout are still up, but interim Parks and Recreation director Sherry Archibald said she expects the council to provide a final decision at the July 2 meeting to take the bollards down and replace them with another traffic deterrent to keep cars slow and children safe.

The council voted 5-0 to open the street back up, after it had been unofficially closed for more than a year, during its May 2 meeting -- two weeks after the April 18 public hearing. Mrs. Archibald first presented her Recreation Advisory Commis-sion's safety recommendations at the May 16 meeting after she was charged by the council to find alternatives to keeping the road closed that would still provide protection for children in the park.

The council added another option to the list that would limit traffic by turning the thoroughfare into a roundabout with an entrance only on one side of the park, and requested cost estimates for the commission's options, which ranged from changing the posted speed limit to inserting speed bumps and putting up an ankle-height chain fence.

Those numbers were presented at Monday's meeting, although the costs associated with closing one side of the Avenue, an option which the Traffic Advisory Committee supported, were not yet known. There was also discussion as to which entrance should be closed.

Council members preferred the Jackson Street option, as that road receives less traffic than Herman, but the commission would opt for the Herman Street option, citing the park's grand entrance and the preference for grass over the area between the picnic shelters for the sake of children.

The option creating only one entrance to the park would require another public hearing since it would, again, be a request to close the road, and the commission said it anticipated opposition to it since members had been contacted about residents using the road as a cut-through.

The costs listed on Mrs. Archibald's report included $200 for the removal of existing bollards along with $500 to repair the road.

Reducing the speed limit to 5 or 10 mph and posting new signs would cost $40, while the price for installing speed bumps ranged from $800 to $1,100, depending on whether they were concrete or the more expensive recycled rubber removable speed bumps.

The total cost for the ankle-height chain fence would be $10,578 and installing Pedestrian Crossing signs and a flashing light would cost $700.

Installing gates at the roundabout that would fit with the park's Victorian style was estimated to cost $6,000 to $8,000. That option would allow for the closing of the park road during specific times, such as weekends during the summer months.