Speeding among issues at Conimicut Village meeting

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Mayor Scott Avedisian got some knowing laughs when he told a Conimicut Village town meeting Wednesday night that there are two words Rhode Island drivers haven’t learned yet…yield and merge.

He made the comment in reference to the Apponaug Circulator and its series of five roundabouts. But it was another word – speeding, even drag racing – that concerned many of the more than 50 neighbors who turned out to hear the mayor at the William Shields Post. Of particular concern is speeding on Point Avenue, the straight half-mile long access road to Conimicut Point Park that at sections has residential homes on both sides of the road.

Other topics raised at the 90-minute town meeting included the condition of playground equipment at the park, the appearance of many streets with weeds growing out of sidewalk and curb cracks; the maintenance of rights-of-way to the shore line; the lack of a contract with the Warwick Teachers Union; and hours that Conimicut Point Park should be open. It was suggested speed bumps, even a stop sign, could deter Point Avenue speeding, with estimates of speeds in excess of 70 mph late at night.

“People ignore them if they have them at every corner,” Avedisian said of stop signs.

Bumps, he said, are restricted to crossings, usually in the vicinity of schools. Closing the park gate at 9 p.m. instead of 11 p.m. was suggested, but the mayor noted this would impede night patrols of the park and that people wanting to congregate there would do so by parking in the neighborhood and walking in. That raised the issue of beach parking fees that the City Council has voted to implement beginning next year.

“We have seen a real increase in trash and that is a part of what we’re going through now by charging,” Avedisian said.

Ward 4 Councilman Joseph Solomon pointed out that increased radar patrols in an effort to deal with speeding in other parts of the city frequently end up with many of the area residents receiving citations. He said much of controlling speeds is conditioning people to the neighborhood. He also called on area residents to be vigilant and report plate numbers of offenders to the police.

Erecting cameras was a suggestion, but Solomon and Avedisian noted that has raised issues of invasion of privacy. Furthermore, Avedisian said under a Department of Transportation directive, the city is limited to five locations for cameras.

Village Association president Ginny Barham noted that the 154-member group takes a great deal of pride in the village and is responsible for maintaining its upkeep by the weeding of sidewalk growth and sweeping the gutters and beautification with hanging flowers, wreaths and flags at different times of the year.

“We’re not afraid to work,” she said.

In his opening remarks, Avedisian talked in broad terms about the city observing that the runway expansion project at Green is completed and the airport issues that have consumed so much energy over the past 24 years is behind us. He said the “airport is going to listen to us.” He said new airlines and service at Green “is good for us and the economy.”

Leslie Derrig, who served as moderator, quickly brought the focus on village issues reading questions that had been prepared and submitted by members. The appearance of West Shore Road beyond the village was raised. Avedisian noted the road is state owned and the DOT’s responsibility.

Resident Jane Flanders asked about rights-of-way to the shoreline and what the city could do to maintain and improve them. The mayor said city maintenance of the rights-of-way would require Coastal Resources Management Council approval.

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Warwick123

I like the Mayor and think he has done a lot of good for the city. But it really grates on me when he makes excuses for not being able to make improvements to things when other cities in RI and elsewhere seem to be able to make them happen perfectly well. Efforts to improve West Shore Road? Sorry, state road, not the Mayor's problem. Close access to Conimicut Point Park earlier? Sorry, makes police access tough, can't happen. Add speed patrols on Point Avenue? Sorry, that gets residents tickets. Add speed bumps on city roads? Sorry, gets in the way of plows. Add stop signs? Sorry, people ignore them. Add cameras? Sorry, the city gets only 5 and can't spare one in Conimicut. Well, where are the affirmative ideas to solve the real, actual problems being raised? Why can Cranston have speed bumps on Narragansett Boulevard? Why can Apponaug get stamped crosswalks and curb bumpouts to control car speed? If some people ignore stop signs, does that make them irrelevant for everyone? If so, let's pull out all stop signs everywhere. These issues are bread and butter things that all mayors address daily in all cities. There are literally hundreds of ways to try to address each one, with pros and cons based on many factors. It is really disappointing when the overall response of our Mayor is that the ones suggested do not work, and no other ones are raised, and Warwick remains the same place with the same problems that we who have lived here a long time have endured for decades without change, and have endured for decades under this Mayor without change. We are not stupid. We travel, sometimes even as far as Cranston, and we see what is possible. Hey, shake things up, try a new stop sign. Try one speed bump. Try a bump out. Try road stencils. Try speed patrols. Try road diets. Try road reconfigurations. Try new signage. TRY SOMETHING. AND IF THAT DES NOT WORK, TRY SOMETHING ELSE. BUT ABOVE ALL, TRY SOMETHING. (paraphrasing FDR)

Tuesday, September 19
davebarry109

#1. You don't use stop signs to slow speeders. The only effective way to slow speeders if through enforcement. The fact that the police catch local residents is simply because they are the ones speeding in their own neighborhoods. Ask any cop.

#2. The police don't need to patrol the point in a car. They can get out of the car and walk the park. It takes five minutes.

#3. The city has a speed enforcement program. Target Point Ave once a week or so or on the weekends.

Wednesday, September 20
Warwick123

Exactly. And if those things don't work, and there is still a speeding/bad actors in the park problem, try something else. But above all, how about saying to the concerned citizens, "Thanks. I understand the concern you are raising about [fill-in-the-blank: speeding, or road-end rights of way, or West Shore Road appearances]. It is my job to help resolve that concern. Here are a few things we can try. We have tried those things in Warwick, and others have tried them elsewhere, and many times they work. I commit to trying them here. If they don't work, we can try something else. But we can certainly improve on what you're concerned about."

P.S. You are right that most traffic engineers agree that stop signs do not control speeding very well, see for example http://www.hrg-inc.com/you-cant-stop-speeding-with-a-stop-sign/. It would be more effective to try crosswalks or other road stencils, bumpouts, speedbumps, and enforcement. The key here is that this is not about anyone in Warwick needing to reinvent the wheel. There are tried and true methods for dealing with these common municipal issues. The problem is that no one cares enough to put energy into actually dealing with them.

Thursday, September 21