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By MARK EVANS
STE. GENEVIEVE HERALD
Several people were concerned enough about downtown driving habits to sit through an hour-long discussion of Tax Increment Financing (TIF) policy to get a chance to speak.
When their turn finally came during the Ste. Genevieve Board of Aldermen’s work session last Thursday night, they raised alarm about the driving habits of many in the downtown historic district
Many are confused by or simply ignore the one-way signs on Market and Merchant, they said. Complaints were also made a drivers speeding on those streets, as well as Main Fourth and other downtown streets.
“Merchant is terrible,” said Samantha Kertz, president of the Chamber of Commerce who works at the Ability Network on Merchant Street. “There’s at least five a day now. It used to be one a week, now it’s four or five a day.”
Others said the problem exists on Market Street, as well as speeding on Main Street. Robbie Pratte, property manager for French Colonial America (FCA), elaborated on the issue.
“It’s getting really bad on Main,” Pratte said, noting that this time of year the FCA’s Linden House on South Main, is open four days a week for children’s programs, with lots of youngsters on the sidewalks and crossing the street.
“Three of them almost got clipped Friday,” he said. He described a recent incident that he said made his “jaw drop.”
“While I was talking to somebody this afternoon, I was so speechless, my jaw dropped. I didn’t even think to take my phone out and take a picture,” he said. ”Somebody just rolled right through Main and Market about 20, 25 miles per hour and didn’t stop,” he said. “It’s getting really bad.”
He said about five years ago a visitor was leaving the Guibourd-Valle house on Fourth Street, across from Valle Catholic High School, when he was struck by a student and sent to the hospital.
Geoff Giglierano, FCA executive director, said things are getting worse.
“We wanted to express our support for any ongoing cost effective solutions that could be used to address not just the wrong way things but also the speeding,” he said.
Giglierano said about 13,000 guests a year visit the FCA properties, many with children, and a large number of them senior citizens. He stressed that it is in no one’s interest if “bad things happen” to visitors to town.
Ideas such as lines or arrows painted on the streets being added to the “Do Not Enter” signs already in place., were discussed.
It was agreed that the wrong-way driving is not “anything malicious,” in the words of Ward 2 Alderman Eric Bennett, a former police chief. It seems to be a case of confused visitors turning the wrong way.
JEFFERSON STREET PARKING AN ISSUE
A second issue discussed was limiting parking on Jefferson Street across from the Valle Catholic parking lot.
Bennett said a number of accidents have taken place there, usually with Valle students trying to exit their parking lot, with limited visibility created by parked cars on the street.
After considerable discussion, it was agreed that two parking spaces between the Valle “desert” and Third Street could be removed.