Marion police seek to slow speed of traffic in places

Motorists will need to pay closer attention when driving near Marion Elementary School following action Oct. 14 by the city council.

Tyler Mermis, police chief, said installing four-way stop signs at Lawrence and Freeborn and Lawrence and Roosevelt streets will interrupt a lot of the fast movement in that area.

According to Susan Robson, the city?s attorney, the new signage also gives Mermis and the other officers an opportunity to have ?enforcement penalties.?

Even though city council members voted unanimously in favor of the stop-sign ordinance, some commented about the change.

?(The police) are going to get a lot of young mothers,? said Councilor Jerry Kline.

Councilor Todd Heit?schmidt said drivers would need to be educated about the change. One way to do that, he said, is by writing a lot of warning tickets.

Mermis responded: ?This is just like the seat-belt law. We can warn and warn and warn every day, but a lot of people violate that law, too. There?s been enough warnings on that law, and it?s time to start writing (motorists) up.?

The bottom line, he added, is that people need to take note of where the stop signs are going up.

Josh Whitwell, former police chief, also had complaints about traffic in that area going too fast, Mermis added.

?Now that we have (stop signs) and drivers run them, we can catch them,? he said.

Roger Holter, interim city administrator, explained to the council that money is in the budget for the signs. It is part of the safe route program, he said, and using four-way stops is a way to slow traffic.

?Coble and Denver streets are only two-way stops, and eventually those will be changed to four-way,? he said.

In time, the plan is to add stop signs all the way to Kellison Street.

Another area the council plans to slow traffic is near St. Luke Hospital.

Mermis said if the council were to approve stop signs in the area of Maple and Roosevelt streets toward the hospital, traffic would have to stop going east and west to allow an ambulance to get through.

Holter said the plan, which started in 2013 and will continue into 2014 and 2015, is to phase in signage at several locations to change traffic flow.

Heitschmidt said there is signage on Roosevelt, north of the intersection, but there?s nothing south.

Insurance

The council also unanimously approved a joint marketing agreement for a water and sewer line protection plan.

Holter said the program was first discussed when water and sewer upgrades started in the Jex Addition.

?(The Jex Addition project) has brought back to light the aging infrastructure within our community,? he said.

Because of the growing problem?due in large part to aging houses and the recent drought conditions?the National League of Cities created a program to address the issue.

?Through the National League of Cities and a third party company, we have the opportunity to offer to our residents insurance to protect them against sewer and water line failure,? Holter said.

Holter said the program is open to only residents, not commercial businesses.

?The insurance doesn?t cover the city?s portion of the damage,? he said. ?This insurance is for the residents and will cover up to $4,000 expense for sewer and water line failure.?

The city has no liability in the program, he said.

Residents can buy one or both types of coverage.

Holter said several other cities in the area participating in this program, including Hillsboro.

Brian Davis with Utility Service Partners has been selected to administer the program for the National League of Cities. He said the company has already paid out more than $200,000 to repair sewer lines.

Holter said the monthly cost for a homeowner interested in this plan is $5.25 for water and $7.25 for sewer.

For each product, the city would receive a royalty of 50 cents, Holter said.

Holter said he has heard the insurance company have a good reputation and have good recommendations.

The council approved its logo being used alongside the insurance company?s logo when letters are sent to residents talking about the coverage.

?The company will handle as external mailing,? Holter said. ?They will produce everything.?

In other business, the council approved having a public hearing at 4:30 p.m. Oct. 28 regarding a 2013 budget amendment. The council meeting will begin immediately following the public hearing.

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