After urging the town to abandon the idea of fixing up a neighborhood intersection during routine resurfacing, residents in Planter’s Walk will have a smoother drive on Lynnwood Road without easier access to the new greenway.
The neighborhood’s Homeowner’s Association and residents were concerned that the town’s plan to include new lanes and a crosswalk to help with pedestrian and other increased traffice would be more of a hazard than putting it there.
After three meetings with input from residents, Town Council agreed to continue with only the resurfacing and no re-striping. The resurfacing was less than half a mile on Lynnwood Road and finished up late last week.
“Since it is so debatable, I would tend to listen to the people who actually live there,” said councilor Randy Young during the July 16 council meeting.
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On June 18, the town announced Lynnwood Road in the Planter’s Walk subdivision would be resurfaced. At that time, Town Engineer Fred Boone said some re-striping of the road could also be done to be prepared for the area to be used more often.
The area is not an official trail head of the Mingo Creek greenway, but it allows easy access. Boone and the Planning and Engineering Committee thought it may be a good area to allow better and safer access for pedestrians but providing parallel parking and a bike lane.
The plan would have also eliminated the center left turn lane, although drivers would still be able to turn left.
But Howard Warm, a 26-year resident of Planter’s Walk, said re-striping would not solve any of the safety issues the town anticipates and will actually cause more.
He also told council that Planter’s Walk has asked the town not to create an access point to the greenway in the neighborhood but the proposed re-striping seemed to create exactly that.
On July 7, the next Town Council meeting, three residents of Planter’s Walk spoke in opposition to the re-striping plan. The town then went on to hold a meeting in Planter’s Walk on July 10 where they heard concerns from the community’s Homeowner’s Association.
Disagreement among council
Town Council, which tends to vote unanimously, saw some disagreement when the topic came before them.
Councilors Dustin Tripp and Mark Swan thought providing the space for bikes and parking was the safest option. Mayor Russell Killen also questioned how safe the road would be without the new features and with expected new pedestrian traffic.
“I agree safety is first but I guess it just depends on what we consider safety,” he said.
Residents in Planter’s Walk were focused on observed speeding in the area, not bicyclists and extra cars. At the special meeting on July 10, members of the HOA suggested nixing the idea of on-street parking and bike lanes and instead focus on adding stop signs to slow traffic.
Warm said the biggest safety concern was speeding and that re-striping would do little to stop it.
“My opinion is that paint on the road is not going to stop speeding,” he said. “People are going to ride in (the proposed) bicycle lane no matter what. I really think this is going to make our community more unsafe than it is today.”
He also pointed out that if it was just a safety issue, the type of proposed re-striping should be happening on other roads around town.
The proposed plan did not include a continuous bike path, but one that stopped at intersections. In about a half-mile of road, Warm said there were eight cuts into the bike lane.
With the ongoing speeding problem, Warm said that lane and parallel parking was too risky.
Planters’ Walk HOA president, Greg Altice, agreed.
“I can see someone getting hurt or worse than that,” he said.
Tripp and Swan voted to continue with the original re-striping plan and Tripp said there were studies that showed this kind of setup was actually safer for roads.
But other councilors favored the opinions of residents.
“Even though there are studies, we also have to keep in mind the people who live there and consider what they say and experience,” said councilor James Roberson.