Two alleys may be permanently blockedAugust 12, 2021
By CANDY NEAL
HUNTINGBURG — The city is looking to make Fourth Street safer for pedestrians, especially those that cross specific alleys that feed into the street.
Huntingburg Common Council members are considering permanently closing a section of two alleys: one next to Mama T’s Italian Steakhouse and the other next to the former Overtime bar. The Huntinburg Board of Public Works recommended approval of the change.
“Cars have been coming through there. And people are walking on Fourth Street on the sidewalks,” Mayor Steve Schwinghamer said Wednesday. “There’s no visibility for the car coming through or for the people to see a car coming.”
He is especially concerned about the pedestrians’ safety. “They have gotten very close to being hit,” he said. “I’ve sat in Mama T’s and watched people almost get hit, because they’re walking on the sidewalk not really paying attention to any car that comes up the alleyway, and the car can’t see them. It’s a safety factor.”
Schwinghamer explained that concern to the council Tuesday evening. He said there will be permanent barriers installed to keep vehicles from accessing the closed-off section from either side. Vehicles using the east-west directional alley behind the businesses would not be able to turn south to get onto Fourth Street anymore.
Councilman Glenn Kissling agreed with the safety issue. “A pedestrian could be walking and a car just pops out,” he said at Tuesday’s meeting, “or vice versa.” He asked about access for emergency vehicles, but the mayor explained that the blocked area would be short.
“We’re only talking about one building length,” Schwinghamer said. “So for emergency purposes, there will be access in the front and back.”
The city is embarking on making improvements to those alleys, including adding lighting, so that more pedestrians can utilize them to get to Fourth Street and Market Street Park from places like Memorial Gym.
“Part of our program that we’re trying to do is to have areas where people can walk safely through at night,” Schwinghamer said Wednesday. “In doing so we would have to block off some vehicular traffic, because we don’t want them to be fighting with pedestrians walking in the same area.”
The council introduced the ordinance for the alleys Tuesday evening and decided to wait until the next meeting to act on it. “It gives us a chance to hear any feedback,” Councilman Jeff Bounds said.
Councilman Steve McPherron agreed with giving the public time to comment, since this is a change in the public landscape. But he doesn’t expect the public to be against the idea. “I think they understand what the premise is,” he said.
The council will consider the ordinance’s passage at its Aug. 24 meeting.
The council also:
• Approved the flood hazard ordinance. The ordinance is the same as the previous one and is needed so that eligible homes can obtain federal flood insurance. The ordinance used to be in zoning code, but it was removed to make it a separate ordinance.
• Gave Schwinghamer permission to apply for grants to make renovations and improvements on League Stadium.
• Heard an update on Dubois Strong’s activities from the last year.
• Was reminded that the council meets Thursday to review the city’s proposed 2022 budget. The council will start the first review session at 9 a.m.; the second session will start at 1 p.m. Both meetings will be in the council chambers on the second floor of City Hall, 508 E. Fourth St.
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