Council: Take flip signs down
by Rick DeClue · News · December 21, 2012

The West Branch City Council voted 3 to 1 on Monday to remove the flip stop signs at the intersection of Main and Oliphant Streets.

This was the first of three required readings.

Mike Owen, School Board President, said removing the flip signs is the worst of all options.

Council member Colton Miller on Dec. 3 asked that the city consider removing the signs after an attempt to approve permanent signs had failed for the second time.

Miller said the flip signs going up and down before and after school were inconsistent; in effect, he said, no stop signs are preferable to inconsistent ones.

At the end of the vote, council member Mark Worrell, who cast the lone “no” vote, threw his arms over his head. Worrell’s reaction to the vote was joined by an audible gasp from a couple of audience members., including Kandi Baylor, who was at the meeting on other business. Baylor said later she supports permanent signs because she believes there have been an increasing number of close calls at the intersection. She has also seen, on two occasions, when one stop sign is up and one is down. She has brought this to the attention of school officials.

After the vote, Worrell immediately asked whether the council and the school district could get together to discuss this subject further.

City Administrator Matt Muckler said that the stop signs could be added to discussions about this year’s grant request for Safe Routes to School. Council member Dan O’Neil is currently working on the grant.

Muckler also mentioned his previous discussions with School Superintendent Kevin Hatfield about the Main Street crossing. They had raised the possibility of a crossing guard, with potential cost sharing between the city and the school district.

The council hesitated to share the costs with the school. They wondered why the school district needed a crossing guard at the intersection of Orange and Oliphant Streets, which was recently converted to a four-way stop. They asked if moving that crossing guard to Main Street would solve both the personnel and cost problems.

After the meeting, Hatfield stressed that the No. 1 concern was safety and security.

He said the district did not have personnel to spare for manning another crossing guard post, because of conflicts with their primary duties working with special needs pupils. This led to the conversation with Muckler about cost-sharing.

Further, the continuing need for the Orange Street crossing guard was based on the large number of pupils who use that crossing.

According to Hatfield, a majority of parents and the school board members prefer a permanent stop sign. He said more students would probably cross Main Street at Oliphant, with a safer crossing, rather than the football field and Poplar Street.

Hatfield also said part of the intersection’s history included a period when the flip signs were raised once in the morning, then lowered in the afternoon.

At the least, this would be preferable to removing the stop signs entirely while partially addressing the inconsistency issue, he said.

Owen also said that no argument about the inconvenience of a stop sign is appropriate in this case and the school board would welcome more discussion with the city.

The school board appreciates their relationship with the city, Owen said, as they have worked well together on a number of issues.

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