The town could make a portion of the street one way to prevent cut-through traffic.
A portion of a Windermere road might become a one-way street — an effort by the town to deal with cut-through traffic.
The Windermere Town Council conducted a first reading during its Tuesday, Oct. 8, meeting for an ordinance designating Ridgewood Drive from Lake Street to Lee Street for one-way traffic.
That ordinance would only allow eastbound traffic along that section of road. It would also give Town Manager Robert Smith the authority to install traffic control devices and “do not enter” signs at the three-way intersection of Ridgewood Drive and Lee Street.
“The whole intent is to direct it back onto Sixth (Avenue) and lead them from cutting through on Ridgewood and then going up,” Smith said.
“We had a lot of residents coming up to the podium and saying, ‘Hey, we have a lot of traffic. We have a lot of speeders and believe it’s all of the people cutting through the town of Windermere, not the people that are living in the town of Windermere.’”
A traffic study by Kimley-Horn and Associates, Inc. showed that 76% of the traffic that’s cutting through is from outside of Windermere and that roads like Ridgewood Drive were being adversely affected.
“It’s a catch-22,” Smith said. “How much pain do you want to inflict on your own residents to handle traffic that’s not the result of what you are doing? We’re trying to be very conscious about their needs and changing their daily lives. There’s really not a magic bullet where we can just correct it, so we’re just going to try it here and see if it works.”
But Windermere resident Mike Hargreaves, who lives along Ridgewood Drive, said he feared the change would increase the chance of collisions where drivers are turning onto Lee Street at the new three-way intersection. Drivers don’t respect the existing stop signs, and so they likely won’t abide by “do not enter” signs, he said.
“We’re setting ourselves up to get into a head-on crash with someone still doing 30 miles an hour,” Hargreaves said.
“You’re creating a real danger, obviously.”
Hargreaves added that forcing cars coming from both directions on Ridgewood Drive onto Lee Street would create a huge lineup of cars, especially if one of them wants to turn left onto Sixth Avenue.
“There’s no way out for us,” he said.
Smith said after the meeting that the town will ensure there’s a safe transition.
“If you have the appropriate signage and make sure it’s visible, then hopefully people will abide by it,” Smith said. “We’re going to have message boards for the first 30 days so that people know that there’s a change in the traffic pattern.”
If approved during a second reading set for November, the ordinance will fully take effect at some point in January 2020 after a 30-day period with signage telling drivers about the change, Smith said.
Oakdale Street, in the southeast quadrant of the town, will also be looked at by the Long Range Planning Committee, which hopes to offset the burden of traffic coming up from Chase Road, Smith said.
TOWN ESTABLISHES NEW COMMITTEE
The town council officially established a committee known as Windermere’s Active Youth “The W.A.Y. Forward.” According to the committee’s mission statement, the group of young residents aims “To have a positive impact on the town, encourage volunteerism, advocate for our environment and bridge the generational gap between residents.”
Resident and committee member Grace Foglia said she wanted to start the committee to give young residents a voice.
“The idea of this committee is to get the youth — which is the high-school students — more involved in the town and our community,” Foglia said. “I feel very passionate for our community, and I know that there’s others who also feel very passionate. I think just allowing them to have a voice and be involved is something that will help them become stronger people and help them kind of set a path for positive involvement.”
Smith said the committee would also be a training ground for future leaders and a chance for them to give back to the community they grew up in.
“Typically, you don’t see the youth getting involved in local politics, which in today’s age is very important — for them to understand how government works, how government reacts and also how to best advocate for the issues that are not only concerning to them, but concerning to the entire community,” Smith said.
Windermere’s Active Youth appointees include Grace Foglia, Alec Alligood, Rainey Carter, Haley Martini, Quinn Matheison, Raeland Mitchell, Sara Mitha, Sarah Myers and Darby Reagan.