Parking and traffic problems plague EcoVillage
by Chuck Hoven
(Plain Press, September 2004) On August 17 residents of the Lorain-Fir Block Club met at St. Colman’s to resolve parking and traffic problems that have developed on W. 58 th Street north of Lorain Avenue.
Longtime neighborhood residents differ with new residents of the EcoVillage Townhouses over whether or not parking should be allowed on the east side of W. 58 th Street in front of the townhouses. On the remainder of W. 58 th street , parking is only allowed on the west side of the street.
Residents say the problem is further compounded by detouring of traffic down W. 58 th Street due to the closure of the bridge on W. 65 th Street . With the Madison Avenue bridge over the RTA tracks also closed and the city’s recent decision to repave Lorain Avenue , the general area has suffered from a number of traffic disruptions – all of which have led to more traffic on W. 58 th Street .
In a July 19 th letter to Ward 17 Councilman Matt Zone , residents of W. 58 th Street expressed their concern. They said they understood the need for trucks to park in front of the new townhouses during the three-year construction period, but now feel there should be no parking on that side of the street. Stressing their concern about safety the letter writers said, “Now with the bridge closings and repair of Lorain Avenue we are living with a dangerous situation. The cars parked in front of EcoVillage present a visibility problem, especially at the curve in front of the northern-most end, where there have been many near misses. While the neighbors are not speeding, the added traffic of detoured cars are speeding and weaving into the wrong lane as they near the curve. Also added to this traffic is the increased number of large tractor-trailers and buses trying to maneuver past those precariously parked cars. Historically, parking on the east side of W. 58 th was not allowed like with the rest of W. 58 th.”
Neighbors further stated that they had participated in numerous meetings about the new EcoVillage townhomes and “were never presented with any plans about parking changes in front of the townhouses.”
At the August 17 th meeting, Councilman Zone said that a staff member in his office had passed along a request to the city’s streets department for a study to look into removing no parking signs from the east side of the street. Zone said a week and a half later the signs were removed. He said, “The traffic commissioner went ahead and did it. It shocked me how quick he did it.” Zone said he expected a study and an opportunity for the neighborhood to meet and discuss the idea.
Residents of W. 58 th and surrounding streets noted that blocked visibility was a problem at the W.58 th curve and at the W.58 th/Madison corner.eir concerns about the parking blocking visibility especially where W. 58 th curves. They noted that cars also parked too close to the stop sign on W. 58 th and Madison blocked visibility and many vehicles, including detoured buses, were not stopping at the stop sign.
New residents of the EcoVillage townhouses insisted that they needed the extra parking spots. Long time residents noted that the plans for EcoVillage called for rear garages and the garages had parking slabs. The new residents pointed out that some of them had only one-car garages and the slabs weren’t large enough to accommodate large second vehicles that would hang into the alley. They also cited the need for guest parking.
In addition it was noted by new residents that they didn’t consider the alley safe, citing a number of attempted break-ins in alley garages. When longtime residents suggested that the new residents park on Beverly Court , new residents said the street was unsafe and lacked proper lighting. A meeting moderator asked one of the new residents if he thought some residents would give up their second vehicles once the rapid station was open again. The new resident said it wasn’t likely to happen in his family. Residents also discussed the possibility of using some vacant lots in the neighborhood for off-street parking.
At the July meeting of the Lorain-Fir Block Club a proposal was made to remove the stop sign on W. 58 th and Madison because pollution from idling buses and trucks. Residents at the August meeting felt the stop sign was needed and called for police monitoring to make sure vehicles stopped there and that vehicles didn’t park illegally close. Residents called for no parking around the bend on both sides of the street so cars could see the stop sign. Many also suggested no parking on both sides of the street from Madison to Lorain Avenue .
After much discussion Councilman Zone said he would walk the neighborhood with the street commissioner. As a compromise., he suggested limiting parking at the bend in the road and around the stop signs to increase visibility, but continuing to allow parking on the east side of the street in front of the townhouses. He said the stop sign would remain. Zone promised to invite the traffic commissioner to the next block club meeting so residents could discuss how the changes were working.
On other matters Zone said that the W. 65 th Street bridge is scheduled to reopen in April of 2005 with textured concret e sidewalks, tree pits and other amenities. Due to the number of bridge replacements already taking place in his ward he said funds would probably not be available for the replacement of the Madison Avenue bridge until 2007 or later.
Zone asked for volunteers to help paint the railing on the pedestrian walkway to the Regional Transit Authority’s new rapid station that is expected to open in late September. Volunteers will meet on Saturday September 4 th and paint from approximately 9 a.m. till noon.
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