Citizens filled the council chambers with cheers as the Newton City Council approved an ordinance to put stop signs at the intersections of East 19th Street North and North Fourth and North Eighth Avenue East.
The ordinance was cleared without opposition during the first reading of the ordinance. Councilor Noreen Otto asked that the second and third readings be suspended, and Councilor Craig Trotter seconded the motion. Newton resident Dave Hoyt gave statistics on the stopping distance for a mid-size vehicle given the speeds that have been recorded by the safety committee.
“We would like to thank the chief of police and the police department for the increased watch in our area. We all know they can’t be out there 24 hours a day,” Dave Hoyt said.
While no accidents have been recorded at the intersection on North Fourth Avenue East and 19th Street, the council discussed the issue of placing a stop sign at the intersection with the intent of slowing the flow of traffic.
“I would want to see a stop sign at both intersections because we have more pedestrian traffic at the intersection at North Fourth Avenue East. It may take a few extra seconds for drivers to get where they need to go, but it’s truly about pedestrian safety,” Councilor Evelyn George said.
The council commended the public for making its voice heard during public forums and committee meetings.
“I would like to commend the citizens of the area and those who have became before the council. It’s really how we would like to our job to work. The idea of answering to the wants and needs of the citizens is why we’re here,” Otto said.
The stop signs has been a pressing issue since the loss of Newton resident Brendan O’Brien in a vehicle-pedestrian accident in April. Mayor Mike Hansen closed the discussion with his thoughts to the ordinance.
“Sometimes, the folks comment on how long it takes for city hall to get to issues, but in all respect and fairness to the city staff that we employ and committee members that we have look at these issues from time to time, that is a valuable step that needs to happen, so that the council members are apprised of the standards of which our committees make their decisions on,” Hansen said. “It should not stop citizens from continuing to petition council members for action that they believe deserves looking at. Unfortunately, we lost a young man in our community, and I am sorry for that, but sometimes the process has to happen before the council decides that this is the direction they want to go. Sometimes decisions are made to do these things not based on facts and statistics that our paid professionals look at. They do it because citizens want it done.”
Staff writer Zach Johnson may be contacted at (641) 792-3121, ext. 425, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.