WILLMAR — Residents living on and around 15th Avenue and 16th Street Southwest, located behind Roosevelt Elementary School in Willmar, asked the Willmar City Council Public Works and Public Safety Committee on Wednesday for assistance regarding a stop sign and drivers who regularly drive right through it.
The neighborhood is full of children, as well as being near the elementary school and a path that runs to it, and there are concerns about the safety of the children.
"It has been quite an issue for quite a while. We have had a lot of issues and called the Police Department multiple times," said Kevin Marti.
Amy Pawelk said she and her daughter have seen dozens of vehicles a day drive through the three-way stop at the intersection of 15th Avenue and 16th Street Southwest, some at what seems to be a high rate of speed.
"It was a ridiculous amount," Pawelk said.
Shane Jahraus has even seen — and taken photos and video of — vehicles driving fast down the street and passing each other, only a short way from where his young children were playing.
Both the residents and Public Works Director Sean Christensen said some of the issue is drivers not knowing the sign is there. However, there are many others who just blow through it regardless.
"I truly believe a lot of these who are going through it are doing it on purpose, and it is very hard to curb that attitude," Christensen said.
Between the residents, council members and staff, many ideas were discussed in an attempt to try and make the sign more visible while enticing people to follow the rules of the road.
"Now that I know about it, it is my responsibility to try something and do something. Because if something were to happen after being made aware of this, I personally wouldn't be able to live with that. I would feel horrible," said Councilor Andrew Plowman.
Willmar Police Department officers have been stationed in the area at times, but they can't be there 24/7.
The residents asked about putting lights on the stop sign, making the sign larger or maybe even installing a second stop sign at 18th Street, where the residential area begins. Christensen was against additional signage and worried about the bright LED lights from a lighted sign bothering residents in their homes.
Instead, the committee directed Christensen to have his department paint stop bars, showing drivers where they need to stop, and to install temporary speed bumps in front of the signs.
"All it takes is someone traveling once too quickly over a speed bump to realize they don't want to do that again, if they care at all for their vehicle," Plowman said.
The committee would like to see the safety measures completed sooner rather than later, to see if they work.
"It is worth doing," said Councilor Julie Asmus, who also lives in the area.