City Council: Streets and Speed Limits, State of the City
Fri, 11/01/2013 - 12:25pm — Diane Dyer
City streets were the dominant topic of the Morgantown City Council meeting Thursday night, with a change enacted in several streets’ speed limits and discussion but no action on taking state roadways over.
The Council took up last month’s state Transportation Cabinet proposal for the city to take over all state roadways within city limits, discussing the benefits and problems with the takeover. The state had offered to fix issues with these roads such as drainage before the city took over; Council member Russell Givens said he didn’t think the Transportation Cabinet quite knew everything that needs doing. Several Council members voiced their reservations about the proposal. Council member Allen Meredith said once the roads are transferred, “it’s our baby” regarding maintenance. Council members Terrell House and Russell Givens each stated they did not see a big advantage in the city taking state roadways over, with House adding that the state wants to “get the monkey off their backs.” The suggestion was made to ask residents of the affected streets what they think, but Givens offered that it could be easier to hold a public hearing. The Council voted to postpone a decision of the proposal to get more information.
The Council revisited last month’s discussion on the speed limit on Thomas Street. Josh Givens, a resident of Thomas Street, addressed the Council on the need to lower the speed limit, particularly between Tyler Street and Main Street, because of the number of children who live on the street. After discussion, Council member Russell Givens moved to lower the speed limit on all of Thomas Street and on Sunset Loop from 25 m.p.h. to 15 m.p.h. The Council approved the motion, but a discussion ensued on the needed limit on Tyler Street as well. Council member House moved to lower Tyler Street to 15 m.p.h., then Mayor Linda Keown suggested lowering all non-state city streets to 15 m.p.h. to avoid confusion. That brought concerns that Sawmill Road would have too low a limit; Police Chief J. R. Wilkins said that would make Sawmill Road a “speed trap.” Russell Givens then rescinded his passed motion and offered a 15 m.p.h. limit on Thomas Street, Sunset Loop, North Tyler Street, and South Tyler Street. The Council approved the changes.
Mayor Keown gave her State of the City Address, commending the Council for the many hours of work and the “impressive list” of accomplishments in the past year. Keown said there was “a lot of money spent this past year” with drains, grading, rock and sand reducing the street fund balance; she stated that the budget is “still a pretty strong budget for all we have accomplished.” Keown listed issues in the coming year including completing the comprehensive plan and city website, clearing the White property, the US 231 project, and completing the erection of new reflective street signs.
MPD Chief J. R. Wilkins passed the 2012 Annual Report to the Council. Wilkins also reported that the MPD is patrolling schools in the city, and he briefly discussed the home check program status. Council member Sharon Johnson told Wilkins that Tyler Street residents had floated the idea to her of a neighborhood watch.
The Council discussed upcoming visits to industries and businesses. Kentucky Copper will be visited on Friday, January 11, and the Council plans to visit Delta Faucet, Pride Plastics, and Certified Flux. Council member Givens stated his desire to visit all these businesses even “if it takes two trips to visit everybody.”
In other business, the Council adopted the goals and objectives of the city comprehensive plan, chose Council members Allen Meredith and Gary Southerland to head the city safety program, approved the 1st reading of an ordinance naming Sharon Johnson as a second deputy Mayor, and approved the 1st reading of an ordinance approving the 2013 American Legal S-6 Supplement at a cost of $1,000. Mayor Keown also told the Council that they need to choose a Democrat to fill the next appointment to the Housing Authority Board to meet required party balance.