October 26, 2021

Get ready to slow down

New speed cameras proposed near schools in PC

A resolution approving the installation of fixed speed camera poles by the schools in Prairie City ended in a 2-2 vote and failed to pass during the city council meeting Aug. 11. With councilman Brent Berger not present, the action will not move forward at this time, though discussion is ongoing for the project.

“I didn’t know this was ever a part of the plan. I knew the fixed ones under Highway 163, I did not know we are doing this one,” councilwoman Ann McDonald said. “Now you are asking for cameras at the school and I feel like this is the first I am hearing about it.”

Councilwoman Dianne Taylor also voiced her confusion on the topic. She said it was her understanding the cameras would be movable and the camera on Highway 163 would be in a fixed spot.

“That was always our migration, to get to that. From the inception, we just cannot staff it to the level we need to there,” Prairie City Police Chief Mike German said.

The proposal near the school would be to place speed cameras facing both northbound and southbound traffic on South State Street. A digital speed sign would also be placed in front of one of the cameras to alert drivers of their speed prior to getting to the camera and enforcement area. A second digital speed camera was requested to have the signage going both directions.

After hearing feedback from citizens, McDonald said that if a ticket is going to be given, the person needs to be pulled over to have the strongest impact. While on Highway 163 she is not against using the speed cameras, near the schools is a different matter.

“Eventually people will slow down, that is the hope. But we’re going to keep giving the tickets and the goal is to keep it safe and then really the ticket camera becomes obsolete because people aren’t speeding anymore, that was kind of the whole goal of the thing,” McDonald said. “I’ve always been a huge push of manual patrols around the whole city and I feel like this takes that away.”

German affirmed that manual patrol still takes place and will continue to around the school.

“And we still do that. School patrol is still school patrol,” German said. “All speed camera options are completely separate from law enforcement operations. Apples and oranges.”

German also gave an update on the fixed speed camera planned for Highway 163. He said they are currently working with the Iowa Department of Transportation on details including where to place the camera.

“They are working with IDOT currently,” German said. “They are moving the target a little bit on how they want that set up and actually they have had some positive feedback from the IDOT on some things to do that we didn’t know were an option.”

The topic will be back on the agenda for the September city council meeting for further discussion.

In other business:

• Interim city administrator Jodie Wyman was promoted to Prairie City City Administrator/City Clerk.

Contact Jamee A. Pierson at 641-792-3121 ext. 6534 or jpierson@newtondailynews.com