Lindsay holds public hearing on proposed roundabout at Westwood and Hermosa next to Jefferson Elementary
By Paul Myers
LINDSAY – Lindsay’s latest road project is far from shovel ready, but that hasn’t stopped some residents from putting their foot in the ground and dig ging in. During a Jan. 4 public outreach meeting over the proposed roundabout at Westwood and Hermosa next to Jefferson Elementary, 50 residents showed up with questions and concerns. Some of those were addressed, and some more were raised at Lindsay’s City Council meeting last Tuesday, Jan. 9.
According to assistant city planner Brian Spaunhurst residents were concerned over cost, traffic circulation, pedestrian lighting and crossing guards among some other concerns as well. During the Jan 4 outreach meeting, publicized on the City’s Facebook page, there was a petition presented against installing the roundabout with around 800 names affixed to it. But Zigler said that some of the opinions over the roundabout are just uninformed.
“The beautiful thing about social media is that it is a great way to get a lot of outreach, but you also get a lot of opinions but often times not informed opinions,” Zigler said.
During the Council’s Jan. 9 meeting Zigler addressed the issue of cost in particular. He noted that the cost of the roundabout is being paid for by a grant acquired by Self-Help Enterprises (SHE). Gathering the grant for the roundabout was a condition agreed upon by the City and SHE when SHE proposed building a 50 unit complex on the south-east corner of the intersection.
Zigler said the City wanted to ensure that if more people were going to live at the intersection and attending the school they wanted the intersection to be safer. Now SHE has acquired a million dollar grant for the instillation of the roundabout, Zigler added that overages would be covered by the City’s Tulare County Association of Governments (TCAG) Bicycle and Pedestrian fund with $2 million to spend. However, he added as well there is a deadline to spend the grant money but he did not specifically say when the deadline is.
Zigler has reiterated the benefits of roundabouts in the past noting how roundabouts reduce pollution because cars do not idle which is when they pollute most, and reduces the severity of traffic accidents. Instead of cars being hit directly, a roundabout accident often results in a glancing blow reducing damage and injury.
In an interview with the Sun-Gazette in April 2017, city services director Mike Camarena said that the roundabout solves most problems. He noted the roundabout reduces the four lanes of traffic to two ensuring the students only have to cross 33 feet of space instead of the 66 feet they have to now. As well students will be able to reach the median island so they only have to cross one lane at a time. He said as well cars can only enter the roundabout at 20-25 miles an hour. Spaunhurst said during last weeks meeting that a max speed would be 35 miles an hour and any faster might flip someone’s car.
CEO of Self-Help Enterprises Tom Collishaw spoke in support of the roundabout at the intersection.
“When we had the opportunity to offer affordable housing…the first thing that was said is we have to deal with the issues of the intersection,” Collishaw said. “From where we sit on this it seems like it makes sense and we support it.”
Lindsay resident Patricia Gutierrez plainly said the intersection is not ideal, but that she favors the project.
“I think what we all want would be for Jefferson School to not be there at all…[but] I’m in favor of it. It just makes sense,” Gutierrez said.
Diana Mata, a long time Lindsay resident, said that she doesn’t understand why they need it and wishes the City would have sold the idea better. Mata added how she felt people at the Jan. 4 public outreach meeting did not come in with an open mind and some responses were fueled by anger. One point she made though was how difficult it is for elderly residents to navigate the current roundabout.
Sue Scott, who works part-time at the Taco Bell on Hermosa between Westood and highway 65, and has been a Lindsay resident for 13 years, said that she speaks to seniors on a daily basis. She noted their complaints about the intersection they have to go through now because it is difficult for them to see when a car is coming because it is difficult for them to adjust in their seat where it is easier for them to see. Scott added SHE should find another solution.
“I think that if Self-Help wants to honestly help these families they should find another solution…the roundabout is just throwing money there that we don’t need,” Scott said.
Mata added later on she tells her mother to take her medication prescriptions to Exeter because that is the only route she has to a pharmacy to avoid the roundabout.
Resident Trudy Wischemann said she was concerned with the narrowing of the lanes from two to one when going through the roundabout, like they have it at the intersection of Elmwood and Hermosa. She went on to say narrowing lanes for the roundabout conflicts with the independent research she had done.
The Council decided to table the item until their next meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 23, but not before the Council weighed in.
“I appreciate all the input and all the concerns but this has been an issue for a long time…I think it’s clear as long as the school is there, there is no great solution. We are trying to choose the best solution…we want to make all the reasonable accommodations we can,” councilman Brian Watson said.