JAMESTOWN – During Monday night’s city council work session, representatives from three different groups were on hand to ask the city to consider improving traffic safety in the area of Lillian Dickson Park. Representatives from the Friends of Lillian Dickson Park, Northside Pride and the area Neighborhood Watch groups said that with the recent effort to renovate the park, there is going to be increased child pedestrian activity. They say that, combined with past history of car-pedestrian accidents in the immediate area, means they want to ensure that children’s safety is a top priority.
The traffic coming down Falconer Street has always been an issue. I know it’s come up at a couple of other meetings,” said resident and parent Kathy Carlson, who spoke to both the Jamestown City Council and its public safety committee Monday night. “We’ve been trying to work with the city and they’ve done a couple of studies, using speed trailers and various things. As we are getting closer to the Lillian Dickson Park renovation, the concern for traffic safety is an issue that has come up more recently, as we want to provide safety and crosswalks for the children.”
Bowen St. resident, parent and neighborhood watch member Wilson Cooper also spoke, saying his group is asking the city to consider adding a four-way stop sign at the intersection of Falconer and Winsor Streets, just a block west of the park. In addition to a four-way stop, residents would also like to see a crosswalk and related signage where Falconer St. intersects with Sturges St.
“I thought about three things when considering this,” Wilson told council members. “Number one – safety, Number two – community, and number three – what the cost is to the city. Like I’ve expressed to many of the community members, if it’s a matter of cost, give me the okay and I will paint the crosswalk out there myself. I will pay for it… I have a daughter who is six years old and she’ll be seven in October. I want her to be able to have fun at the park [without having to worry about her safety].”
City Councilman Stephen Szwejbka (Ward I), who represents the ward that the park is located in and also is the director of the council’s public safety committee, said that the city police and public works departments will be taking a renewed interest in studying the area.
“it is a dangerous area,” Szwejbka told WRFA following the meeting. “Unfortunately people do speed going up there. Crosswalks and a possible four-way stop and Winsor and Falconer Streets are excellent ideas and I just hope that we do get them in place.”
The area of Falconer St. near Lillian Dickson Park was the location of a tragedy in April 2009 when a child was struck and killed by a motor vehicle after darting out into traffic from between two parked cars. Less than three weeks later, a second child was struck by a vehicle, but eventually recovered from the injuries. In reaction to those incidents, the city installed signage to make motorists aware that children were at play in the area, although state law does not allow the city to reduce the speed limit around the park.
City police chief Harry Snellings said that over 35 accidents have been reported in that area in the past four years. Both Snellings and DPW director Jeff Lehman will look further into the suggestions from the groups this month and a report on the feasibility of the crosswalk and stop signs could be brought back to the city council as soon as June 17.