City council considers changes to make streets safer

Thursday, July 1, 2021
File photo

For the third consecutive meeting, the Eureka Springs Council heard from resident Jack Byrne about ways to make the streets safer on Monday night.

Byrne spoke during public comments, offering a proposal for changes on Douglas, Flint and Jackson streets. The property needs to be surveyed, Byrne said, and the city needs to know the exact property line between the parking lot of the Grand Central Hotel and the north side of Flint Street. It’s important to know how far back the two lanes of Douglas Street can go, Byrne said, with or without the parking spaces the city rents from the Grand Central Hotel.

After the survey, Byrne said, the city would determine where a sidewalk can be placed on Douglas Street. Byrne suggested eliminating the first parking spot closest to Main Street to place a pedestrian crosswalk. Additionally, Byrne said, a white line or asphalt should be placed on both sides of Flint Street to separate the street from the parking lots.

Butch Berry

“Speed cushions should be placed on Flint Street,” Byrne said, as well as a stop sign on Steele Street and two speed cushions on Steele and Council streets.

At that time, Byrne’s three-minute speaking time ended. Council member Bill Ott moved to allow Byrne more time to speak and Mayor Butch Berry said, “No, this is public comments.”

“We can’t grant him more time to finish reading his proposal?” Ott asked.

“This is three minutes,” Berry said. “This is public comments. Next, please. Public comments. Three minutes.”

“I can’t move to suspend the rules and give [Byrne] time to finish reading his proposal into the record?” Ott asked.

Berry said that’s “setting a bad precedent” and asked to continue with public comments.

During the first item of old business — discussion of Flint and Douglas intersection — council member Melissa Greene said she didn’t have a good chance to look over Byrne’s proposal yet.

“It would be worth looking into and I’d like to have a little time with Jack’s proposal,” Greene said.

Greene suggested that Byrne continue his comments and council member Autumn Slane said she’d “love to hear from him to finish his statements.” Council member Harry Meyer asked if the city knows where the lines are in that area and Berry said he’d have to check with public works director Dwayne Allen to see if it’s been surveyed.

“I know the hotel’s sold a number of times,” Meyer said. “They had to have it surveyed at some point.”

“They probably do,” Berry said. “We don’t.”

That means there’s a survey on record, Meyer said. Berry said that’s not necessarily true.

“Surveys aren’t always recorded,” Berry said.

Council member Terry McClung said surveys are “mostly recorded” and there should be one on the Grand Central Hotel and maybe the building where Flint Street Fellowship is located.

McClung said the area of Flint and Douglas streets is a problem area, but it’s not the only place like that in the city.

“There’s lots of them,” McClung said. “It’s really tricky but that’s just part of town.”

McClung said Byrne had a “good point” and suggested making a compromise. Berry then addressed Slane, asking if she wanted to move to allow Byrne to finish his statements. Slane did so, and Byrne took the mic again.

Speed cushions are needed on Flint Street, Byrne said, because people “gun it” just after they pass the speed limit sign. Byrne suggested placing a stop sign on Steele Street.

Parallel parking spaces at Onyx Spring should have signage stating that perpendicular parking isn’t advised, Byrne said, because that kind of parking leaves cars out in the street.

Byrne acknowledged that there are more problems to be solved all over town but said the situation on Flint Street is “crazy every weekend.”

“It’s a zoo,” Byrne said. “We have more tourists in our area now than we have ever had, so we need to start giving people some direction.”

Byrne recalled getting hit by a car in Berryville and said a police officer told him the driver would have gotten a ticket if Byrne had been on a crosswalk. Because he wasn’t on a crosswalk, Byrne said, the officer had to assume that he “probably, maybe stepped out in front of the car to get hit.”

“That’s why I’m trying to push for crosswalks and sidewalks — to keep people safe,” Byrne said.

Berry said he already had spoken with Byrne about why a crosswalk can’t be placed on Main Street, because the highway department won’t allow it. Byrne said he wasn’t talking about Main Street and Greene said she wanted to give Byrne’s proposal to Allen for further review.

“We will go ahead and work with this with the public works director,” Berry said.

Also at the meeting, the council heard a proposal from Main Street Eureka Springs and deferred a proposed ordinance for board of zoning appeals to be heard by city council.

The council’s next regular meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Monday, July 12, at The Auditorium.

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