Residents: Bike lanes OK, parking not
The addition of bike lanes to Tamarack Circle was welcome and anticipated.
The abrupt transformation of the outer travel lane into parking spaces was not.
"Nobody knew anything was coming in this neighborhood," Forest Park resident Vicky Smith said last week. "We just thought they were repaving Tamarack Circle, which needed it. We've never had parking on Tamarack Circle ever before, and I've lived up here for 30 years."
Although it's the most direct route for many of the trips she takes, Smith said she plans to avoid Tamarack Circle from now on.
"It's just confusing," she said. "It's a mess."
City officials notified former Northland Community Council president and Forest Park resident Dave Paul that bike lanes would be added as part of the resurfacing for Tamarack Circle, according to Forest Park Civic Association president Mike Stone.
"I think that was something that was very well-received," he said. "What caught us off guard is the fact that it also created a seismic shift in terms of the traffic patterns around Tamarack. No one was prepared for that and, quite frankly, we don't feel we got any kind of notice about it.
"My phone's been ringing off the hook and my email has been burning up."
"Whenever we take out parking, we always do a public meeting on that, but this time we're adding parking, which is an improvement to the area," said Steve Cordetti, a public relations specialist with the city's Department of Public Service.
Cordetti said the decision to create parking spaces should not have caught residents by surprise.
"We did reach out to the Northland Community Council and received positive endorsement for the project from the past president and the current president," he said.
No, they didn't, according to NCC president Emmanuel V. Remy.
"We were not supportive -- N-O-T -- not supportive of any parking issue," Remy said. "We didn't even know about the parking issue. It was sprung on us. We were supportive of bike paths. Generally in our community, it's something that we want.
"It was a complete shock and surprise about the parking itself. We had no idea."
In consulting with Cordetti, Remy said it turned out someone with the city had misread an email communication from the NCC regarding the proposed addition of parking spaces.
The addition of the bicycle lane and parking spaces grew out of a repaving project, according to Cordetti. Whenever resurfacing is undertaken, he said, city crews endeavor to "piggyback as many infrastructure additions as we can" to reduce disruption.
"We looked at this as a good opportunity to add bike lanes," Cordetti said. "The new parking that we put in was put there to accommodate the residents and the businesses.
"It just creates a safer transportation system."
"In my experience, I can never recall needing to get into the left-hand lane to avoid a parked car," Stone said.
Traffic studies undertaken by city officials showed the volume of vehicles using Tamarack Circle "wasn't really enough to warrant having two lanes for traffic," Cordetti said.
"One lane is sufficient," he added.
"What we're trying to do is arrange a meeting to see if some of the concerns of the public, which are quite frankly many, can be addressed," Stone said.
He was hoping this could take place at the Forest Park Civic Association's next regular meeting, set for 7 p.m. Sept. 11 at Epworth United Methodist Church, 5100 Karl Road.
"As of this point, I don't have it confirmed that we'll have someone there, but I'm going to work hard to see that we get that done," Stone said. "We're trying to gauge what the community sentiments are and trying to act on them. We're still collecting the sentiments, and there are plenty of them."