Danedri Thompson
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Not only is a crosswalk on north Center Street in Gardner unsafe, it may also be illegal. That’s the word from several residents of Brittany Court, a housing development on the west side of Center Street.
The walkway crosses Center Street near the development and ends in the Gardner Aquatic Center parking lot.
“Until recently, designers and city personnel have shown a total disregard by not following pedestrian design standards,” Gardner resident Gary Carson told the council during the open comment section at the start of an Oct. 6 meeting. “It’s not only unsafe. It’s illegal.”
Carson, who is in a wheelchair, said the crosswalk does not meet Americans with Disability Act regulations.
“If the council decides not to act tonight, I’ll be spending my time filling out paperwork at the department of justice,” Carson said.
Doug Cross, Gardner, said he recently moved to town.
“And the first time I used the crosswalk, I was astounded to see it dump into the entrance and exit to a parking lot,” Cross said. “it was only by the grace of God that I haven’t been hit.”
Someone is going to get hurt in that crosswalk, he told the council.
“It’s not an ‘if.’ It’s a ‘when.’Someone is going to get hit,” Cross said.
Council members did not address the issue until the waning minutes of the council meeting. The item was not formally noticed on the agenda.
The residents who expressed concern about the crosswalk did not stay to hear the solutions offered.
“I’m not going to stick around for the debate, because there shouldn’t be any debate,” Carson told the council.
However, Mayor Chris Morrow said the city is taking the crosswalk concerns seriously.
“Our liability carrier and legal counsel would tell you we’re doing all the right thing to address ADA compliance,” Morrow said.
Public works director Brian Faust said the council has a few options to correct the crosswalk concerns.
First, he said the city could simply move the crosswalk further north, or he said the council could wait and do studies to determine other crosswalk locations along north Center Street. Basically, Faust told the council one is more of a temporary fix. The other is a more permanent solution. However, the more permanent solution would be more expensive, and has not been budgeted for 2015.
Council members appeared to reach a consensus that they would like to see the crosswalk moved north as soon as possible, even if that means spending a little to move or upgrade the crosswalk again in the future.
Morrow said the city’s ADA compliance issues are not going to go away.
“We’re going to have issues in other spots,” Morrow said. “This issue is not an issue that is going away because we fix Brittany Court.”