Residents are still fired up over a two-month old Patricia Avenue barricade at a once-popular Patricia Avenue cut-through to Pinehurst Road.
Patricia Avenue closed to traffic just south of McLean Street on March 23.
Residents have since responded passionately, some wanting the road reopened, and some relieved the road is closed.
“I’m finally feeling safe to go out into my front yard again,” resident Cecilia Funderburk said. "The cars were whizzing by at all hours of the day and night."
The City Commission voted to close the road during a City Hall meeting on Feb. 17 in response to community input and a traffic study conducted by the city.
City Traffic Engineer Joan Rice’s original proposal suggested an interim phase: move one speed hump from nearby neighborhood streets — McLean Street and Jackmar and Robmar roads — to the portion of Patricia Avenue between McLean Street and San Salvador Drive. If that measure didn’t slow drivers down, she suggested then moving to the final phase: closing Patricia, with the speed humps on the other roads to be lifted in time.
The controversy came after the City Commission opted to move directly to the final phase, except for Mayor Dave Eggers, who lives in the neighborhood.
Proponent Barbara Jenson of Lakeside Drive welcomes her quiet streets back again.
“I think the closure on Patricia is a good thing because there aren’t too many cars cutting through our neighborhood to get to the high school anymore,” she said.
However, she also admitted that as a result of the closure, speeders have been redirected to San Salvador and San Christopher.
Neighborhood opponents said it’s inconvenience and traffic overflow that has prompted them to rally a neighborhood petition to have the road reopened.
“We collected almost 500 signatures,” resident Linda Chidlow said. Chidlow, who lives next to the blockade, brought another batch of signatures to the May 19 City Commission meeting.
“It’s an inconvenience,” resident Tricia Colin said. Her husband and daughter work at Mease Manor and the closure prevents them from getting to places quickly, like her place of worship at Our Lady of Lourdes Church and Dunedin High School, where her daughters attend school.
Aiden Acebo, 15, who lives with his parents adjacent to the roadblock on McLean and Patricia, has noticed loitering at the barricade.
“I’ve seen girls drawing graffiti in that area,” Acebo said.
He said he also fears for the older residents who might need quick medical attention.
Dunedin Fire Chief Jeff Parks said the closure hasn’t hindered the department’s rescue efforts at all.
“We haven’t seen any noticeable difference in response time,” he said.
City Commissioners told about a dozen concerned residents in attendance at the May 19 meeting that the Patricia Avenue closure is in the second month of a six-month probation period, at which time commissioners will re-evaluate — probably sometime in September.
Until then, Chidlow's efforts signature-collecting continues.