Mark Galvin

Council members look for resolution on rumble strip issue

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The fate of rumble strips, the grooves in the pavement near rural intersections, may be learned next month.

Town council is expected to receive a report in April on the matter, it was learned, after Councillor Leo Meloche brought the matter forward at the most recent town council meeting. Meloche said the noise being made by people driving over the rumble strips is still a problem for many who live near them.

“We have to address this one way or another,” said Meloche. “I’m asking when.”

Director of planning, development and legislative services Mark Galvin said his recommendation was to wait as administration gathers best practices from other municipalities.

Council was also told that the town has changed the engineering firm that was looking into the issue. However, Meloche wanted a solution sooner than later, suggesting that some rumble strips could be filled in when the asphalt plants re-open for the season.

“We’ve got to get urgency into this matter,” said Meloche. “I don’t think a whole summer of this would be pleasing to any of us.”

CAO John Miceli stated administration is performing its due diligence into the matter but Councillor Rick Fryer said rumble strips in other areas of the province that he has travelled don’t result in the same level of noise as the rumble strips in the rural areas of Amherstburg.

“The depth is too deep,” he said, though public works officials informed him the most recent installation was at a quarter-inch depth as recommended by the county. Galvin added that rumble strips in other areas may have been carved some time ago and have worn down, as compared to the “fresh” rumble strips that are in Amherstburg.

A report is expected to be before town council April 9.

Town council puts two-hour limit on downtown parking lot

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

A two-hour parking limit is coming to the lot at the corner of Richmond St. and Ramsay St.

Town council voted to implement a parking limitation at that lot during Monday night’s meeting and to support the concept of a downtown parking study after the development of the Duffy’s property is complete.

The issue stemmed from an Oct. 23, 2017 request from Storey and Denomme Family Dentistry to have two dedicated spots in that lot. That request was denied but it sparked the investigation into options for that lot. The parking limitations would be Monday-Friday 8 a.m.-5 p.m.

Councillor Joan Courtney spoke against the two-hour limit, stating that it could deter people from eating out and enjoying the downtown area.

“Everything is two hours,” said Courtney. “I find that unreasonable.”

Courtney cited an example of a family eating at a restaurant and going for a walk in the summer with an ice cream only to have to keep checking their wristwatches in order that they don’t violate a two-hour parking limit.

“My wish will be no time limit from May until late August,” she said.

Two-hour parking is coming to the lot at the intersection of Ramsay St. and Richmond St.

Director of planning, development and legislative services Mark Galvin said the town has dealt with complaints that people park in the lot downtown all day and said issues related to downtown parking in any municipality is a tough one.

“Finding the right mix of short-term versus long-term is something municipalities struggle with,” he said. “You will never make everyone happy.”

Galvin added he has seen four-hour parking limits on occasion, but “not that often.”

Councillor Rick Fryer said he was fine with introducing a two-hour parking limit in the lot. He said there are spots available in a town-owned lot east of the Heritage Square lot.

“From the downtown core to Heritage Square, it’s not that much of a walk,” said Fryer.

Fryer believed the issue for downtown businesses is “convenience over what is available.” He added a major issue is people parking in public spots for days without moving their vehicles.

“How do we move cars that have been there for days upon days?” he asked. “I hope the bylaw is strong enough so we’ll be able to tow.”

Courtney questioned where downtown employees will park. Manager of licensing and enforcement said there was material sent to downtown businesses showing there were a lot of spots just out of the core area and suggested that strategy could be used again.

“A report to council on March 9, 2015, identified that a parking review was conducted for the downtown in the area of Rankin Avenue to Park Street, and Dalhousie Street to

Sandwich Street. Through this exercise, administration reviewed all town-owned parking lots within this area and completed an inventory of available parking spots. Further, administration reviewed and created an inventory of all on street parking within the identified area along with time limits where applicable,” Rubli stated in her written report. “In 2015, it was identified that the town has a total of 97 parking spots available for use in town-owned parking lots and approximately 373 on street parking spots within the identified area.”

 

Residents state rumble strips causing negative impact to their lives

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Town council will look at what to do about rumble strips on rural roads, some that have recently been maintained.

Melissa Gidillini said that her and her parents have been negatively impacted by rumble strips that were re-cut in front of their Concession 3 North home. Gidillini said her parents purchased the home four years ago and the noise from vehicles passing over the rumble strips have decreased their property value and impacted their lives.

The noise affected her mother’s health and well-being and her father’s ability to get a good night’s sleep, she said, and wondered if there are other ways to alert motorists to the nearby intersection rather than rumble strips. She hoped something could be done “to preserve the sanity of the citizens.”

Councillor Diane Pouget said council members have received many e-mails about the issue and asked whether administration could do something to reduce the noise but allow drivers to stay safe as well. She was told that rumble strips give notice to drivers that an intersection is coming in case they are driving while distracted or if visibility is poor.

Councillor Leo Meloche said he has also received e-mails and has heard from people crying on the phone, adding that council agreed to rumble strips near Howard Ave. and Alma St. as a way to “mitigate loss of life.” Public works re-cut some of the other rumble strips as a maintenance measure, CAO John Miceli believed, with Meloche and Councillor Rick Fryer wondering if the cuts to the roadway were too deep thus increasing the level of noise.

Meloche added that, based on his research, some municipalities have scrapped rumble strips altogether due to noise complaints.

“I wouldn’t want them in front of my bedroom. My kids and my wife would be going nuts too,” he said.

Director of planning, development and legislative services Mark Galvin noted that the rumble strips were put in due to council motions. He said that accidents at intersections can be traced to a variety of factors and that administration would have to look at particular instances. Removal of the rumble strips at this stage could expose the town to liability concerns due to other councils passing motions to install them.

Deputy Mayor Bart DiPasquale said he was in favour of taking a look at the issue, but stated people have gotten used to the noise over time.

Amherstburg police chief Tim Berthiaume said there have been three fatalities in recent years and believed they could have been possibly been prevented with rumble strips. He said the accidents involved people who know the area.

“We have to ask ourselves as a police department, why are they blowing stops if they are from here?” said Berthiaume.

Meloche added that if people walk into a door, would the door be removed?

“We have to stop this B.S. and say a mistake was made,” said Meloche. “Should people in the community pay for their mistakes?”

Local resident Greg Nemeth believed that lowering and enforcing speed limits could make a difference.

“Slow them down and we’re going to save a lot of lives,” said Nemeth.

The report will come back to council and is expected to detail options on what council can do to properly address the issue.

Dentists seek closer look at parking limits in downtown lot

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Local dentists Chad Denomme and Stefano Storey are hoping the town can take a closer look at time limits for parking near their recently-purchased building.

The owners of Storey and Denomme Family Dentistry recently bought the building at 79 Richmond St. and are currently renovating it so it becomes their new home. They had originally requested that a few spots in the adjacent public parking lot at the corner of Richmond St. and Ramsay St. be dedicated for their business, but modified their request and instead wanted council to take a closer look at time limits in that lot.

“As soon as we discussed (having dedicated spots) as a team, we thought that may open up a can of worms for other businesses,” said Denomme.

However, they have noted that many vehicles park there all day and suggested that putting time limits on spaces could produce a better flow of vehicles in the lot and increase availability of the spots.

“It’s the same cars there for eight or nine hours a day,” said Denomme.

Director of planning, development and legislative services Mark Galvin suggested that spots in that lot could be designated for two-hour limits but “the question is the mix.” He said they could look at best practices and come up with something with regards to what percentage of spots could be on a time limit.

Councillor Jason Lavigne opposed any idea of another parking study but did say the municipal lot across the road in back of the Heritage Plaza building is “empty all day.” Amherstburg is a tourist destination, Lavigne continued, and that “if we switch lots to two-hour parking, it’s going to create issues across the board.”

Dentists Stefano Storey and Chad Denomme are asking the town to take a closer look at some time limits for some of the spots in the lot at Richmond St. and Ramsay St.

Lavigne said there has been debate with the Amherstburg Chamber of Commerce on the matter over the years but believed there are enough spots downtown.

“There is a ton of parking down there,” said Lavigne. “Some is a stone’s throw from businesses.”

One of the issues with the parking lot at Richmond St. and Ramsay St. is nearby residents, such as those in the Navy Yard condominium building, parking there.

Councillor Rick Fryer also pointed out the parking behind the Heritage Place and that people can “park here and walk a little bit.” He said something has to be done to alleviate parking concerns, and wondered if a “pay for parking” scenario would work though admitted people would be “up in arms” at first. He believed such a plan could force residents who use public lots while at home to move their vehicles out of the lot.

“There’s got to be something done,” said Fryer.

Councillor Leo Meloche stated that short-term parking has to be closer to businesses and that those who park downtown for eight hours or so should be “pushed out to the outlying areas.” That said, he maintained his belief that “Amherstburg doesn’t have a parking problem.”

Lavigne cautioned that if parking limits are placed in the Richmond St./Ramsay St. lot, there could be more funding requested by the bylaw enforcement department. He also pointed out the traffic committee could have looked at the matter but it was dissolved several months ago.

Councillor Rick Fryer’s motion to deny dedicated spots, allow administration to enter into an encroaching agreement for a sign over the sidewalk and to have administration come back with suggestions for the Richmond St./Ramsay St. parking lot was approved.

“We’re going to have to do something to help the businesses,” said Fryer. “We can’t have spots tied up by those in the apartments next door.”

Council members not impressed with county over not returning library funds

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Members of Amherstburg town council are not impressed that the county won’t be returning any funds collected during the eight month long library strike.

Amherstburg had sought a refund of money paid during the library strike with Councillor Diane Pouget wanting an update during Monday night’s council meeting. Mayor Aldo DiCarlo said the county chose to reallocate the funds into reserves with no money being returned to municipalities.

“Other than that, we have no authority per se other than our votes,” the mayor stated.

Pouget asked if the town has any legal recourse in the matter.

“Taxpayers paid the money,” she said, “and we didn’t get the service.”

Amherstburg town council is upset with the county over not returning funds collected during the Essex County library strike. One of the strikers is pictured in this August 2016 photo.

Amherstburg town council is upset with the county over not returning funds collected during the Essex County library strike. One of the strikers is pictured in this August 2016 photo.

Pouget added the town could have used the money to put in a reserve of their own to maintain the library building itself.

Director of planning, development and legislative services Mark Galvin said the town can look into the agreements between upper and lower tier municipalities with CAO John Miceli stating that library services fall into the county’s jurisdiction.

“Our residents pay a significant amount of money in taxes for a service they didn’t get,” Pouget pressed. “I do think we have to take a stand on this.”

DiCarlo said Amherstburg was one of the municipalities that wanted the money returned and “to the best of my recollection,” there was one other. Councillor Jason Lavigne wondered why no other municipality was concerned about “ripping off” the residents.

Lavigne added his belief that there is a “black mark” on the county for failing to return the funds collected during the strike.