The Hancock-Henderson Quill, Inc.
by: Shirley Linder, Quill Editor
At a special meeting, approximately 70 people gathered at the Stronghurst Village Hall on Monday evening for an open forum on stop signs, as well as questioning the proposed truck route.
The majority attending seemed to agree upon one thing, there are just too many stop signs. While most agree there are way too many stop signs there are some which are quite adamant that the signs at their corner not be removed.
Police Chief Gary Smith opened the meeting telling the people he was asked to evaluate the traffic around the middle school and make some recommendations and also take a look at the park. He said Tony Anderson, (employed by the village at that time) had some concerns for some corners, so at that time the board said let's do it all at one time and get it done. In the original ordinance there were 49 signs set up in place initially but 32 of them were not listed in the ordinance. The new ordinance has 59 signs and 23 of them were requested by the people from the village.
Ten signs were changed to yield signs and one stop sign has been removed at the corner of Broadway and North Street.
Chief Smith said when you have long stretches of unimpeded road without signs you have trouble with speed. Smith said there were only 25 signs agreed on by himself and Tony. When asked why he doesn't give more tickets to speeders instead of the stop signs, Chief Smith said, "We're not in the business to make money."
The question was asked what the cost of the stop signs were but no one in the room could remember the figure, only that the posts were donated.
Smith said he and Ronnie Gittings, with Lou Ann Nortrup looking over their shoulder said the stop sign at Maple St. and Elizabeth could be removed, so not every block on Elizabeth was a stop. Also the sign at Dixon and Mary could be removed going North and South. There will be a sign at Court and Commercial due to a request. Main and Logan has gone from a stop sign to a yield sign.
After some heated conversation, Kenneth Corzatt, spoke up saying, "We came here to give some testimony regarding this problem in this town and all we are doing is sitting here arguing, why don't you stop it and hear some testimony."
At this point people were called upon for their opinions if they wished to speak.
Albert Renken, a bus driver for West Central, said coming from North Street on Elizabeth to the school he has to make 8 stops, which includes one for pick up and one for the railroad track.
Kenneth Corzatt said, "I'm 89 years old and I'm frustrated. Why would you adopt a system with no merit. You have made the village a laughing stock. I've lived here 30 years and you've taken a system that was not broken and put up four way stop signs that are not needed. There is a simple solution, go back to the beginning and remove all the stop signs that did not exist before this started. I want to make a plea to put this village back the way it was we don't need all these problems, it needs to take action and start a healing process."
Lynn Leinbach said everyone on the village board were elected by the people but, he felt that Gary was running the town and the board, at which time applause broke out. Conducting the meeting in the absence of Eric Chockley, Lawrence Neff said, "I want to see your name on the docket at the next election."
David Knutstrom, asked by the board at the last meeting to do some study and bring back recommendations came with a petition signed by over 200 people that he gave to the board.
He reported that him and Mark Muhleman had compiled recommendations based upon the comments from the petition, speaking with individuals, and most importantly touring each intersection. They objectively discussed each intersection.
He stated, "Although these views are not based on professional studies, they are the views, concerns and ideas of the people of the village. Some of the citizens who shared their concern and input have been here decades and have watched the community change and evolve. We as a community strongly encourage the Village Board will agree to return things to the way they were and conduct a complete study and analysis of the intersections that need to be addressed.
When asked why a truck route was established, Chief Smith said "It was set so there would be the least amount of stop signs, two at the most."
People were given the chance to speak their thoughts for approximately two hours, at which time the board decided to have a citizens committee study the issue more and bring recommendations back to the board.
David Knutstrom was asked to chair the committee and Mark Muhelman, Doug and Deb Hale and Kevin Box consented to serve on the committee.
Only time will tell if we stop or go more freely in Stronghurst.