Reversing the flow of one-way traffic on East Wells Street will be among the topics of discussion at a joint meeting of the Clarinda Community School District Board of Directors and the Clarinda City Council scheduled for 4 p.m. Oct. 28, in the commons of the PK-6 building.
The joint meeting was initially scheduled to be held prior to the regular meetings of the city council and the school board Wednesday, Sept. 24. However, the school district requested the meeting be rescheduled.
Although the matter was tabled until the joint meeting, the city council did discuss the written request received from the school district to change the direction of travel on East Wells Street during its meeting Sept. 24 at the Lied Public Library. Currently, the one-way street has traffic traveling east, but the school district would like to have the traffic head west to provide another outlet from the PK-6 building to South 16th Street.
“I would be interested in hearing what the school has to say. Maybe they’re thinking about something that we’re not,” Clarinda City Manager Gary McClarnon said.
Clarinda Police Chief Keith Brothers said East Wells Street has been a one-way street since he has resided in Clarinda. Brothers said he was unable to find any historical records explaining why the one-way street was created with traffic proceeding to the east.
“If I understand the rationale behind their request to do that, it is to create another outlet for vehicles to exit off of 15th Street on the west side of the PK-6 building, and have those vehicles dump out onto 16th Street instead of having to proceed all the way down to 15th and Division,” Brothers said.
However, Brothers said he had concerns about child safety since the crosswalk for South 16th Street is located at the south corner of the intersection with East Wells Street. Brothers said some of the traffic coming to that intersection would want to turn south through the crosswalk and that could create problems at the intersection.
In full disclosure, Brothers told the council his daughter currently serves as the monitor for the crosswalk. Still, he said having traffic enter South 16th Street from East Wells Street would create added concerns for anyone serving as the monitor of the crosswalk since students are crossing the street at two of the busiest times of day in terms of amount of traffic in that area.
“There’s enough of a responsibility for whoever is manning the crosswalk in the mornings and the afternoons to get the north and south traffic on 16th Street stopped. Now, if you add in traffic that’s going to dump off there and x amount of that traffic wants to go south on 16th, that’s going to be another area that school official is going to have to watch for,” Brothers said.
Council member Jeff McCall said allowing traffic to enter South 16th Street at East Wells Street would delay traffic on Division Street from turning onto South 16th Street.
“I think it’s just going to take a flow issue and move it from one spot to another spot,” Brothers agreed.
Brothers commended school issues for their efforts to improve the flow of traffic at the PK-6 building in light of the COVID-19 precautions being completed as students enter and exit the building. However, with the elimination of shuttle bus service this year to transport students to other locations in the city, Brothers said there is a higher amount of traffic trying to navigate the streets around the school this year.
“If it was a right turn only on Wells, you’re not solving the amount of traffic that’s there. Furthermore, if you wanted to do two lanes, there’s a problem because the church has the handicapped parking there and that’s pretty close in order to make any sort of merger. The visibility up there is good, but there is problem enough on Division with individuals trying to make a left hand turn, let along adding another street taking a left hand turn,” council member Matt Ridge said.
Councilmember Craig Hill said he had concerns for the property owners on East Wells Street. If the street could only be accessed from the east, he said they would have to go to Orange Street in order to access their property. In addition, he said there are often vehicles parked on the street.
“It’s nice that we’re going to discuss the situation and see what (the school) has to say. We’ve got to try to figure something out or the district needs to figure something out. But this is not an issue that we just created this year. We’ve all known it’s been there for a long time. Ever since Garfield School has been there, or since the addition of the middle school 20 years ago,” Hill said.
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