More than 50 people packed into Wednesday night for in the Grace Manor and Havre de Hills neighborhoods.
A follow-up meeting is scheduled for June.
Quality of life and safety concerns were the theme of the night.
David Klein, of Grace Manor Drive, summed up the main concerns that most residents seem to voice Wednesday.
"My quality of life has dropped tremendously in the last 11 years and it saddens me when I come home. This is not a road, this is a highway," he said. "That’s where you find trash, that’s where you find people just throwing things on the road, that’s where you find people angry because they can’t go the speed they want to go and they can’t go the speed they want to go because my children are trying to cross the street to play with other kids."
Rose Marie Russells, a community HOA board member, complained that walking to her mailbox has become unsafe and children have nowhere to play.
"Safety is definitely the No. 1 concern," she said.
The residents suggested various solutions to alleviate the dangers that have weighed heavily on their minds. Robert Frank, who resides at Spinnaker Way and Jennifer Zehmer, of Grace Manor Drive, suggested speed cameras.
"Drop the speed limit to 15. We all know that State of Maryland speed cameras are set 12 miles over the speed limit. All they have to do is 27 [mph] and they get a ticket," Zehmer said.
City Councilman David Glenn, who lives on Lewis Lane in the neighborhood, agreed with Frank and Zehmer on the possible use of speed cameras and how dangerous drivers can be.
"I talked to the chief of police. She said if some would like to volunteer and get first-hand knowledge of speed cameras, she is willing to teach two or three with her officers and maybe witness first hand if speed is really a problem."
Glenn also suggested placement of speed bumps to slow drivers down or drop the speed limit, but reminded residents that these problems will not be solved overnight.
The evening came to a close with a presentation by city spokesman John Van Gilder, which offered two possible solutions.
“I didn’t want to play the dominos. We fix one problem and create two more,” Van Gilder said to begin.
See the attached PDF for Van Gilder's presentation.
The first solution he gave was eliminating the bike lane on Ohio Street and expanding the approach to the five-way intersection with U.S. Route 40 to a two lane road. He said it would allow 60 percent more traffic, increase the efficiency of the red light, and reduce traffic back up. He explained that this would be the quickest and most effective solution for the time being.
The other suggestion was to extend Camilla Street to Ontario Street—but residents just saw this as causing a heavy traffic problem for another neighborhood.
Jim Clark, of Joe Hill Drive, questioned the council’s timeline.
“I think you owe everybody a time frame, a time table, when something’s going to happen," he said. "I think you owe it to us to say 'Here’s what’s going to happen. Here is the time frame it’s going to happen in,' and to make some of the changes we talked about because it just keeps going round and round and round. Let’s make a decision, let’s come up with a time frame when some of these changes can take place because that’s all we’re here for."
A final solution will require further discussion. Mayor Wayne Dougherty assured he would work on getting speed bumps and crosswalks installed, and see that the speed limit would be lowered.
TELL US: Do you use Grace Manor Drive and Lewis Lane as a short-cut to Route 40? What solution do you see for the issue? Leave a comment.