WILMINGTON — Citing increasing pedestrian traffic and accidents downtown, Bekah Muchmore and Taylor Stuckert have asked Wilmington’s streets committee to consider safety improvements.
No action was taken Thursday at the committee, which recommends action to the rest of Wilmington Council, and Stuckert and Muchmore said they plan to return with a study of pedestrian safety and how to improve it.
Muchmore is executive director of Main Street Wilmington, and Stuckert is the executive director of the Clinton County Regional Planning Commission. Joe Spicer chairs the streets committee, which also includes Jonathan McKay and Mark McKay, a member of Main Street Wilmington.
“Since 2004, there have been 20 reported accidents involving pedestrians (walk/bike), with 13 of those occurring in the last 5 years,” stated a letter presented to the committee by Muchmore and Stuckert. “This of course does not include those that were struck, but did not report, or the ‘close calls.’”
Income Tax Commissioner Marque Jones and Wilmington Parks and Recreation Director Lori Williams both said they’ve had issues with that crosswalk. Jones said he’ll wait for several cars before he can cross there, and Williams said she’s had several close calls where she’s almost been hit while crossing.
Stuckert and Muchmore proposed a three-stage plan, according to that letter.
The first stage would place two signs that remind drivers that it’s a state law to stop for pedestrians in a cross walk within a couple months.
The second phase would have CCRPC collaborate with Wilmington College students to complete a pedestrian safety study to analyze safety issues and concerns downtown, propose solutions to those issues, prioritize solutions and identify potential funding sources.
The third portion would implement a plan to improve pedestrian safety based on that study.
Stuckert said the main portion of the proposal was the plan, but Thursday’s discussion centered around the signs, especially as they pertain to money.
Muchmore estimated the two signs would cost $350 each, but Spicer wondered if the signs wouldn’t need replacing.
“Seven hundred dollars is not a lot of money for safety,” Spicer said. “On the other hand, we don’t have a lot of money, and if it’s something that’s got to be replaced every month or two, that can be an issue.”
Mark McKay said the committee needed to find out how the signs handle being hit. He suggested asking Yellow Springs, which has similar signs, about them.
“I think this is a much needed thing right there,” said Jonathan McKay.
Stuckert said as activity increases downtown, more safety improvements will be needed. As for funding, he said having a study and plan would help win grants.
On traffic, Stanforth expressed concerns about plowing snow and street sweeping, and he and Spicer thought it may be better to place one sign there so vehicles can turn left across South Street.
Wilmington Safety and Service Director Brian Shidaker added that signs on the ground may get knocked over by fire trucks and ambulances because the road is so narrow.
Jonathan McKay recommended a lighted crosswalk that essentially creates a stop light when someone steps onto the cross walk.
Stanforth’s executive assistant, Marian Miller, suggested improvements to the sign currently there, which only says “cross walk.” She suggested that improvements there may not get damaged like improvements on the ground.
Muchmore and Stuckert said the study would determine what’s needed in the long run and will answer most of the council members’ concerns and questions.
Reach Nathan Kraatz at 937-382-2574, ext. 2510 or on Twitter @NathanKraatz.