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Ward 4 residents raise traffic concerns during forum

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City Manager Joe Neeb answers citizens’ questions during the Ward 4 public forum on Thursday evening in the gym at Valley View Elementary School. Other city staff and councilors were present and also fielded questions and got feedback from residents. (Alison Penn Photo)

Around 14 citizens attended the city of Roswell’s public forum in Ward 4 on Thursday night. Councilors Savino Sanchez, Judy Stubbs, Barry Foster and Jeanine Corn Best were present — along with 10 city staff members.

The agenda listed the following items: Valley View Elementary School’s traffic congestion, critters (specifically squirrels), off-road vehicles, Superfund sites, trash/alleys, abandoned cars and other code enforcement issues, demolitions, sinkholes, trees and the Yucca Recreation Center.

Kurt Greer brought up traffic congestion around Valley View Elementary School, close to his home, during pick-up and drop-off hours. Greer has lived in Roswell for 24 years and said he felt “it was about time” that he was heard by the city. He called traffic congestion “dangerous” and “absolutely insane.” His main concern was a fire truck not being able to access the surrounding neighborhood during emergencies due to illegally parked cars and difficult traffic from 2 to 3 p.m. Greer alleged that the traffic is coming from families who live outside of the district. He suggested a parking lot or garage nearby to combat the problem.

In response to Greer, City Manager Joe Neeb said this is the first time traffic congestion has been brought up at the public forums. To approach the issue, Neeb said the city will consider a study on how the neighborhood is using the space to determine what can be done. After a study is done, Neeb said the public safety departments would collaborate with the city’s engineering departments to come up with the best solution.

Neeb also said the Roswell Independent School District and city are “two peas in a pod” when it comes to their responsibilities to Roswell residents.

On the subject of the Yucca Recreation Center, Neeb said the city should be receiving demolition proposals within the next week and he is looking into “workforce” or affordable housing development on the property. Neeb said the city is having a conversation with an individual who has come forward with another use for the Yucca Center. Neeb said anyone interested in the property must meet the reserve price, provide a benefit to the community, and have a proposed timeline for negotiating with the city.

Tamara Gedde asked if the city would look into the impact on the surrounding schools if workforce housing brought future students to the area. As a RISD teacher on special assignment, Gedde said many of the schools are crowded as is, and she hopes the city would be cognizant about the impact. Neeb confirmed that the city would look into the matter. According to RISD maps, the Yucca Center would be in the Missouri Avenue Elementary School, Mesa Middle School and Roswell High School boundaries.

Gedde said she was concerned about congestion at Valley View Elementary school and came to listen, for suggestions for parents and the school district. She said the city answered citizens positively on the matter and it was helpful for her to hear what the school’s neighbors said. In her opinion, there should be no street parking on both sides to help parents follow the school’s intended layout for pick-up and drop-off and benefit those already complying.

On other traffic issues, Neeb said older neighborhoods are not built for the amount of cars people have now. Bill Morris, the city’s community development director, said the city has been looking into the impact of how many cars can be at homes, and is exploring solutions.

Police Chief Phil Smith shared information on mopeds and other motorized bicycles that citizens may see. Neeb and Smith encourage citizens to report those that are dangerous or loud. Smith said if the vehicle travels at under 30 miles per hour the operator does not have to be licensed. He also said if people are avoiding DWIs they tend to ride low-quality versions of the mopeds.

One citizen asked what can be done about squirrels taking pecans. Mike Mathews, the city’s public safety director, fielded these questions and said he and animal control would look into a solution.

Kaarina Jager, a citizen, asked about the Superfund sites where the soil was contaminated by dry cleaning companies’ chemicals. Morris said the Environmental Protection Agency is still looking into what can be done about the sites and expects more information in the next six months.

Sanitation Director Steve Miko answered questions about the alleys and trash cans. In response to one citizen, Miko said the landfill takes household hazardous wastes and will help citizens find the best way to dispose of materials the landfill may not be able to take.

Citizens asked again about lids for the trash cans. Neeb reminded those in attendance that lids are no longer made for the black containers and the shipment of lids for the tan containers has been delayed. He said the city is expecting the tan lids at the end of October.

Neeb also asked citizens if they would be interested in transitioning to 96-gallon roll-off containers for each household as opposed to the 300-gallon containers serving three to four houses on average. Some of the citizens showed interest in this idea.

For code enforcement issues like weeds and abandoned vehicles, Neeb encouraged that citizens report such issues when they see them. Neeb and Morris also said that the legal committee will be reviewing the proposed rental registration program, minimum property standards, chronic nuisance and property maintenance codes.

City/RISD reporter Alison Penn can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 205, or at reporter04@rdrnews.com.