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Kelley Park road will stay open

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

A proposal to turn the road in front of the Kelley Park lower shelter house into a cul-de-sac hit a road block Monday night.

After much discussion and comments from citizens, the McCook City Council unanimously voted to keep both entrances open to the road and directed city staff to come back with other options to reduce speed in the area.

Public Works Director Kyle Potthoff first suggested making the changes in the one- and six-year street plan presented to the council at the Feb. 1 meeting.

The street is scheduled to be repaved later this year and Potthoff proposed other improvements at the same time, as a way to improve pedestrian safety and to discourage vandalism at the lower shelter house.

Potthoff told the council at the regular meeting Monday night that he wanted "to look at the whole picture" before starting the re-surfacing project and that closing one end of the road and creating a cul de sac area was one way to reduce traffic. But whatever direction the council wanted to go made no real difference to him.

"I won't lose sleep either way," he said.

Councilman Jerry Calvin repeated his stance from the February meeting, that the park was for recreational purposes. Limiting the road to an entrance from East Fifth, would enhance the area and create additional security from speeding motorists.

"It's a park, folks," Councilman Calvin said. "What can we do to make it an enjoyable and safe experience for kids and parents who want to go there?" Closing one entrance would allow the park to be developed in other areas as well, he said.

But Councilman Aaron Kircher disagreed. There weren't overwhelming safety issues and closing the Kelley Park Drive entrance would only add to traffic congestion and inconvenience motorists, he said.

As it is now, the road disperses traffic efficiently, he said, with none of the bottlenecks a cul-de-sac could create. The current two-way access "was designed for a reason that way."

With Mayor Dennis Berry absent from Monday's meeting, the two other councilman also weighed in, speaking in favor of keeping the road with two entrances.

Councilman Lonnie Anderson said that he received many phone calls over the weekend from citizens who were "100 percent" against closing the entrance. Councilman Mike Gonzales added that the only way to make the road completely safe would be to close both entrances, adding that he wasn't convinced that vandalism would be deterred by closing an exit.

Potthoff said during discussion the main reason for modifying the road was for pedestrian safety, with increased foot traffic from the walking trail and disc golf.

Although the lower shelter house gets the majority of vandalism of structures in the park, it was not the primary reason for the cul-de-sac.

McCook citizen Gene E. Morris shared his safety concerns with the proposed closing, among them that eliminating an entrance would only add to traffic congestion. Making the road a cul-de-sac would only cause additional hazards for pedestrians, he said, with limited visibility because of parked vehicles along the road and two lanes of traffic going in and out of the area.

He advocated leaving the road as is and posting speed limits, creating a cross walk from the bridge to the shelter house and constructing a "rolling" speed bump, that alerts motorists to slow down yet is low enough so that snow plows can go over them without damage.

Another citizen, Val Kircher, said closing one end of the road would only increase traffic two-fold, with motorists entering and exiting onto East Fifth. East Fifth is already busy with motorists and pedestrians crossing from the walking trail, she said, which increases in the summertime when the city pool is open.

In the end, the council was unanimous in keeping two entrances to the road, but still wanted to find a way to slow down traffic. City staff will return to the council at a later date with options to address that concern.

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They must be the ones using the road as a "cut through" to and from East 5th and Kelley Park drive. Closing one end will more than likely leave those on that road as ones using it as its intended purpose (park use), not just using the road as a shortcut. But like Mr. Potthoff said, I won't lose any sleep over it either.

-- Posted by norm on Tue, Mar 2, 2010, at 6:13 PM

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