By Jeff Gallatin
North Olmsted City Council has put up a stop sign for a proposal from Westlake Mayor Dennis Clough – which is supported by North Olmsted Mayor Kevin Kennedy – to raise the speed limit on a small stretch of Crocker-Stearns Road, which runs between the two cities, from 35 to 45 miles per hour.
Council was scheduled to put the proposal on a second reading last night. However, at its Aug. 12 meeting, council’s Safety Committee voted 2-0, with Councilwoman Angela Williamson absent, to not recommend the change. Several other council members, who are not members of the Safety Committee, also indicated their opposition to the plan.
Safety Committee Chairman Paul Barker reiterated his opposition to the measure. When essentially the same proposal was introduced several years ago during the administration of former Mayor Thomas O’ Grady, Barker was opposed to it then as well. Current City Council President Nicole Dailey Jones, who was Ward 3 councilwoman during O’ Grady’s administration, also indicated her opposition to the plan again, although now, as council president, she would only vote to break a tie. Two North Olmsted residents also spoke out against the plan. Current Ward 3 Councilman Paul Schumann was the only council member to express any support for raising the speed limit, saying most people drive around 45 mph on that road.
Westlake City Council currently has similar legislation scheduled for a third reading when that council returns from break in September. Clough has said he didn’t expect any opposition to final passage of the proposal when the Westlake council returns. Westlake officials were invited to the North Olmsted committee meeting, but did not attend. Contacted later, Clough said he still believes 45 is the proper limit and will ask the Westlake council to move ahead. He reiterated that Westlake residents have sought the increase.
After the meeting, Kennedy said he still believes 45 is the right limit since state traffic officials have recommended it as the limit, but the mayor said he will not try to change council’s mind.
“Change is hard,” Kennedy said. “If the limit was 45 and we were talking about making it 35, they might not want to make the change for that either.”
Residents Madeline Brookshire and Kevin McDonald, who is president of the West Park Forest Ridge Homeowners Association, said North Olmsted residents are opposed to the proposal. Brookshire said putting in the roadway has impacted people’s quality of life and that the feelings of North Olmsted residents should be taken into account. Dan Chambers of Chambers Funeral home also expressed his opposition to a higher limit, renewing previous requests for removing some sound barrier walls and saying a higher speed limit could cause more accidents.
Barker said raising the speed limit on a less than two-mile stretch of road doesn;t make sense and could cause safety problems.
“We got speeding ticket statistics in that area from our police department and they had 65 tickets in that area last year and they averaged 50.5 miles per hour,” Barker said. “My fear is if we increase the speed limit to 45 miles per hour then we will have some people driving 55 to 60 miles per hour, which could be a safety hazard.”