Bettering Plainfield with the facts since 2005

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Child safety near Hannah Atkins: A Modest Proposal

One solution would be to block both ends
permanently and construct a new driveway
for residents to access their parking.

For several months now, Plainfield resident Danny Dunn (brother of former Councilor Malcolm R. Dunn) has been on a tear about traffic on the block of West 3rd Street between Liberty Street and Plainfield Avenue.

That block separates Hannah Atkins Park from the Joanne Hollis Gardens apartments. Dunn called for speed bumps, and the City did install temporary rubber speed bumps.

However, when he complained about the issue again in open comments at Monday's Council meeting,it came to light that the temporary speed bumps had been removed. According to Councilor Bridget Rivers, they were damaged "by residents" and had to be removed.

Public Works Director Eric Watson and Public Safety Director Carl Riley said they would be replaced in due course, even as Councilor Barry Goode pressed for a more specific date -- which was not supplied.

When resident Curtis Weaver, who lives in the neighborhood, came to the mike to comment, he observed that the problem arises from drivers who wish to avoid the long 3-phase light at West 4th and Plainfield Avenue and use the West 3rd Street block as a shortcut, speeding as they go.

Perhaps the question should be framed differently. Instead of thinking of it as a speeding issue, would we better off thinking of it as an issue of providing the safest access to Hannah Atkins -- a heavily used city park -- for the children and residents of Hollis Gardens who must cross West 3rd Street to get to the park?

If the City were to take that view, then maybe the safest solution for residents would be to stop using that block of West 3rd Street as a through street between Liberty Street and Plainfield Avenue.

Another option would be to erect a
permanent barrier midway in the block,
preventing through traffic.

Two possible solutions come to mind --
  1. Make the block impassible by installing a barrier in the middle of the block, preventing through traffic. The two halves of the block could then be converted to two-way traffic to be used by residents only to access their parking spaces at Hollis Gardens. This would shunt the "shortcut" traffic to the first block of South Second Street, which begins alongside Mt. Olive Baptist Church and is little used.
  2. A second alternative would be to block off West 3rd Street permanently at both the Liberty Street and Plainfield Avenue ends and construct a driveway for residents of  Hollis Gardens along the property line behind Mt. Olive Baptist Church that would provide access to their parking areas from South Second Street.
Either way, the children and residents of Hollis Gardens would have safer access to Hannah Atkins Park, and dangerous traffic would be diverted away to a less busy street.

Since Councilor Rivers proposed a community meeting with the residents to discuss the issue, perhaps she could float the idea with them to get feedback.

Though, of course,the downside is that Mr. Dunn would lose a drum to bang.

  -- Dan Damon [follow]

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