SILVER LAKE — The recently added traffic slowing measures appear to have the desired effect, according to the mayor, but the village council president said he would like to see the issue addressed "more aggressively."
The use of a speed sign on the back of a police cruiser, along with additional crosswalks accompanied by paddle signs, were rolled out earlier in the summer in response to concerns raised by residents in June.
Mayor Bernie Hovey said signs displaying motorists’ speeds have been set up at various points around the village.
The sign is mounted on a village police cruiser and "seems to be having a good effect," noted Hovey.
He added residents have told him they are slowing down when they see the sign. The mayor explained the sign is set up on different streets from day to day, with Harriett Road, Vincent Road, Englewood Drive and Silver Lake Boulevard being the main streets targeted.
Hovey said he decided against using a commercial speed sign, similar to the one placed along Front Street near Don Sitts Auto Sales.
"I do not feel such a sign is necessary in order to preserve the safety of our residents, nor do I think most residents would think that such a sign would fit the ‘character’ of the village," added Hovey.
Council President Jerry Jones (At Large) at the July 2 meeting told Hovey he disagreed.
While acknowledging that there is speeding on Harriett, Vincent, Englewood and Silver Lake Boulevard, Hovey had noted he was not aware that speeding on those streets was causing accidents. He added that most of the speeding tickets that the police give out are along Graham and Kent roads. Council Vice President Bill Church, along with members Matt Plesich (District D) and Tim Nichols (District C) said they favored using the speed sign mounted on the cruiser, along with implementing additional crosswalks.
When he spoke with the Falls News-Press on Wednesday, Jones questioned the effectiveness of the speed sign on the cruiser. He noted the sign only calculates the speed of a car coming from one direction and added there have been times when the sign was not working.
"I don’t think it’s as effective as some think it is," said Jones, who added he would like to see the village purchase a couple of commercial speed signs.
"We have the funds," said Jones. "We can afford to buy a couple of signs ... I think this is a safety issue that should be addressed a little more aggressively than what it is."
In addition to vehicles speeding, Jones said he’s seen cars "blow through" stop signs, particularly the one by the elementary school.
Crosswalks, paddle signs installed
Other actions taken earlier in the summer were the installation of new crosswalks at both Maiden Lane and Silver Lake Boulevard and at Circle Drive and Silver Lake Boulevard, and the upgrading of the crosswalk on Kent Road at Silver Lake Boulevard, said Hovey. On that third item, Hovey explained that a cement walkway was put in from Church Street to the crosswalk, which then travels over Kent Road to Silver Lake Boulevard.
"Prior to that, walkers [on Church Street] were subject to whatever conditions the weather imposed," said Hovey.
The improvements of the crosswalks cost a little more than $7,500, according to Hovey.
The mayor said the village recently purchased two paddle signs for $124 each that are intended to remind motorists that state law requires them to stop when a pedestrian enters a crosswalk.
"Employees of the Silver Lake [Board of] Trustees working at the boathouse, beach and swimming areas place the signs in the crosswalks each morning and remove them each evening when the park closes," noted Hovey.
Jones said he felt the crosswalks and paddle signs "probably is helping some."
Hovey said he believed word-of-mouth about these actions have also helped slow down motorists.
"I think that just the publicity they have received has helped remind people to drive more slowly," said Hovey. "All of this resulted in increased conversation and increased awareness about not only speeding, but safety in general."
Why the steps were taken
At a Council meeting on June 4, Silver Lake Boulevard resident Scott Croghan told village leaders he saw vehicles speeding through the village, and requested that action to be taken. Then, at the meeting on June 18, Croghan noted that a speed reading device was placed near his home and he added that the device was helping slow down traffic, according to the meeting minutes.
The new crosswalks at Silver Lake Boulevard and Maiden, and Silver Lake and Circle, are used by pedestrians to walk over to the Silver Lake Estates’ boathouse and beach. Fred Johnson, the chair of the Silver Lake Estates Board of Trustees, thanked officials at the July 2 council meeting for installing the new crosswalks.
"I think we made things safer for young people in our community by getting this done in a timely fashion," said Johnson, according to the minutes of the council meeting on July 2. "I’m very grateful for that."
Reporter Phil Keren can be reached at 330-541-9421, firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter at @keren_phil.