I wanted to comment on the recent mischaracterization of the opposition to paving over the most southern brick portion of Highland Avenue between Henry and Randolph streets, in the recent East Street paving article. City Council then and now generalized that opposition as a desire to preserve the aesthetic character of the street. When my son and I attended a meeting of council in 2019, those words were used by council members Sean Donahue and John Battaglia, not us. Our concern was twofold. The first was that residents were not consulted. The second was that the planned paving of a through street connecting downhill directly into a school zone would encourage dangerous driving.
Regarding the first concern, we’re pleased to see the city taking better care to consult with residents ahead of time. The paving of East Street is a different situation and every neighborhood should be treated differently depending on the landscape and most importantly, the citizens residing there.
The second concern is still a tragedy waiting to happen. The result on Highland was for the city to put up a temporary radar sign which regularly clocked individuals driving 40 mph in a 25 mph zone. At some point, a distracted or reckless driver will hit a child or parent. There will be an outcry. Parking will be reduced and houses will be leveled to improve sight lines. Perhaps a bigger driveway will be built to allow more cars in and out or giant street lights erected to blast the area in light during the early morning. Attempts will be made to make First District Elementary School more like its suburban counterparts. Fewer property owners in the area will be paying property taxes after those houses are demolished to make room for a driveway. Fewer people will want to live in Meadville as we hollow out yet another neighborhood with faster roads or parking, and the next generation will shake its head as to what went wrong, when it all could be improved with a more frugal focus on walkable streets and putting the pedestrian children and a pedestrian friendly neighborhood first.