SANFORD, Maine — Motorists heading into some parts of Sanford, seeking to avoid the traffic lights at Main and Lebanon streets, are taking a shortcut from Route 202 through a city neighborhood at high rates of speed, some residents say, and they are worried area children are being put at risk.
Police have been visible in the neighborhood around the upper portion of Kimball Street and have conducted traffic details, which has helped slow traffic, but once police have gone on to other tasks in other parts of the city, the speeding, residents say, ratchets up again.
Parents Paul Rumery and Jon Stimmell presented the City Council with a petition signed by 45 people in the Kimball Street area, north of Twombley Road, Tuesday night. Rumery, who has three children, said the area around the intersection of Kimball and Beacon streets is the worst.
“We want to address this before a tragedy happens,” said Rumery.
Stimmell, who has two children, said not only are there a large number of children who live in the neighborhood, but there’s a day care there, too.
“We want to calm down the traffic,” said Stimmell. “We want to work in cooperation with the council to do something positive.”
In a prepared statement, the men said drivers also speed by bus stops, and one mother told them that her son, who was carrying a bag of leaves, was knocked to the ground by a motorist on Beacon Street. They said that family is leaving the neighborhood.
Rumery said he doesn’t walk with his children on Kimball Street, but uses a roundabout route to get to bus stops and parks due to speeding vehicles. The men said speeders are showing a lack of respect to the neighborhood, and the city as a whole. The statement goes on to thank Councilor Brad Littlefield for visiting the street and witnessing the speeding vehicles.
Mayor Maura Herlihy said police have been doing extra patrols in the area, but a longer term solution must be found. She referred the matter to the City Council’s Public Safety Committee, which plans to meet Nov. 19. Rumery and Stimmell have invited the city manager, mayor, public works director, police chief and others to a neighborhood meeting about the issue on Nov. 6.
Councilor Ken Burgess said the speeding issue affects other areas of the community as well, not just Kimball Street, and pointed out a recent problem on Railroad Avenue.
“I think it’s everywhere. We can’t put speed bumps everywhere,” Burgess said.
Herlihy said when the City Council first received emails about the issue, the police department agreed to do extra patrols. At first, warnings were issued, but now, speeders get tickets, she said.
City Manager Steve Buck said the police department began extra patrols in the area starting in June, sometimes stopping as many as 10 cars, sometimes as few as one.
“Obviously, the issue has not been resolved to everyone’s satisfaction,” Buck said.
Buck said Public Works Director Charles Andreson will explore the use of speed tables and other traffic calming devices — but, he pointed out, such devices installed on Portland Street some years ago were removed a year later.
Councilor Alan Walsh expressed concern about city officials meeting with neighbors ahead of the public safety meeting.
“We have a process,” he told the mayor.
Herlihy noted it is the neighbors who are hosting the meeting, and information gleaned there by the city will be passed on to the Public Safety subcommittee.
Walsh said he is concerned if other groups call, the city manager, councilors and staff will be meeting “all over the place.”
Rumery said he first approached the public works department about the speeding issue 18 months ago.