The residents of the Lillian Dickson Park neighborhood have taken their safety concerns to the city, and with a little work, made sure that something was done about them.
Crosswalks at the intersection of Falconer and Bowen streets were added in late July by the city's Department of Public Works to address concerns for child safety in the neighborhood. Child safety has been a growing concern for area residents as improvements are being realized at Lillian Dickson Park.
"We had a child fatality a few years ago and another injury recently along Falconer Street," said Kathryn Carlson, a local resident. "As improvements are being made to the park and it becomes more of a neighborhood destination, we want to do all we can to prevent another tragedy."
Having a safe place for children to play is one of the main goals of the Lillian Dickson Park neighborhood group. Pictured above, parents and their children are using the playground equipment during the National Night Out event that was held in the park. Residents in the neighborhood have taken a strong stance on safety in the area.
P-J photo by Ryan Atkins
Through the efforts of the neighborhood group, crosswalks were recently placed at the intersection of Falcon and Bowen streets. Front row, from left: Kathryn Carlson and her children Maggie and William; Mayor Sam Teresi; back row: Andy Dickson, Creating Healthy Places; Jeff Lehman, director of Public Works; Pedro Melendez, traffic engineer; Kris Brown, traffic engineer supervisor; Harry Snellings, director of Public Safety/Police Chief; John Williams, parks manager.
Carlson, along with Wilson Cooper and other neighborhood residents, brought her concerns to the Public Safety Committee in June. During that meeting, Councilman Stephen Szwejbka, I-Ward 1, said that since the park will draw in more children to the area "it is imperative safety is the No. 1 priority at this point.
"We want to provide safety and crosswalks for the children," Carlson said during the June meeting. "There are quite a few multi-family homes on the street, so there are quite a few children. Now we'll have this playground that will be attracting even more children. We're just concerned about their safety."
Because of her jobs as an emergency room nurse and first responder, Carlson has seen firsthand what can happen at the scene of a motor vehicle accident, saying that it can be a traumatic experience not only for the children or the victim, but also the driver or drivers that are involved.
"We just want to make sure that we've covered all of our bases to prevent any more accidents," Carlson continued.
The Jamestown Police Department promptly stationed its speed trailer on Falconer Street and collected traffic information while looking at recent traffic reports for the street. Within a month, the new crosswalks were installed and high visibility playground signs were in place. During the meeting, residents also inquired about the possibility of installing a four-way stop at the intersection of Falconer and Winsor streets as well as a crosswalk at the intersection of Falconer and Sturges streets. Eventually, however, it was determined that the area was not subject to enough traffic to warrant a four-way stop sign.
"We're grateful for the concern of the neighbors and their involvement in improving the Lillian Dickson Park neighborhood," Mayor Samuel Teresi said. "We need engaged citizens to take ownership of their neighborhoods and help city government bring about change. Neither of us can go it alone in these efforts."
The Lillian Dickson Park has also been the recent focus of efforts by residents to improve the neighborhood.
Neighbors and city of Jamestown Parks, Recreation and Conservation crews have renovated the park during the 2012 and 2013 Hands On Jamestown events. Together they installed benches and bike racks, and removed scrub vegetation. In addition, neighbors have organized activities for kids, raised money for new playground equipment and formed a Neighborhood Watch organization.
In addition, nearly 100 residents attended the National Night Out at Lillian Dickson Park earlier this month, which was also held in three other locations in the city. The celebration, which is held around the country as a way to promote involvement in crime prevention activities, police-community partnerships and neighborhood camaraderie, works with the National Association of Town Watch. Harry Snellings, chief of the Jamestown Police Department, took time during the event to meet with residents, speak with them about their concerns and explain the concept of a neighborhood watch to them, as well.
Wilson Cooper, Neighborhood Watch chair, focused on the crosswalk as a first concern for the new organization.
"Safety is a reason we formed our Neighborhood Watch," Cooper said. "Whether it is safety from crime or traffic safety, the Neighborhood Watch can help the JPD do its job. We're grateful to the city for being so responsive in helping us address both park and neighborhood issues."