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Passion and Controversy Surround Road Closure

Patricia Avenue road block is a blessing to some, curse to others.

Residents are still fired up over a two-month old Patricia Avenue barricade at a once-popular Patricia Avenue cut-through to Pinehurst Road.

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 and , 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.

Jennifer July 22, 2011 at 07:05 PM
My parents live on McCarty Street and have been there for 30 years. I also lived there and have since moved on to my own home with my family. People need to realize that whether or not a speed sign is posted there is no reason to go over 25 mph in a neighborhood. I live off of Michigan on Heidelberg and that street is a cut through to Brady, CR 1 and Fairway Estates. People of all ages going 30, 40 mph through a neighborhood that has no sidewalks and plenty of kids out playing. We just recently got a speed bump put in and they still speed over it. The bottom line is no matter what neighborhood you live in, SLOW DOWN!!! There are plenty of roads that you can go 55 mph or more on but they do not include neighborhoods!!!!
Katie Dolac July 22, 2011 at 09:38 PM
Interesting point, Jennifer: "The bottom line is no matter what neighborhood you live in, SLOW DOWN!!!"
Mark July 23, 2011 at 10:20 AM
Long sigh... I no longer have the energy nor the desire to go on and on about this issue, to be accused of trying to hide my identity so on and so forth. John, you certainly should be the only one to have an opinion on this matter and everyone should just be quite. There will always be a rebuttal to a rebuttal and all the what if's in the world. What if someone was speeding on Patricia, ran the stop sign and killed my kid...or you...or your wife. What if...etc... You do what you feel you need to do. I don't care. If you would like to walk down and discuss the issue as with me as adults that would be fine as well. P.S. I normally don't post my full name on any public web site. I just feel like it's not a good idea.
Tricia August 19, 2011 at 02:19 PM
School is back in session MOnday, August 22nd. Patricia Avenue is a relief road for the copious amounts of traffic that travels on Pinehurst, especially before and after school. Pinehurst is also heavily traveled as the midget footbal leagues play and also cheerleading practice - each evening. The Dunedin Fine Arts Center and Dunedin Community Center is also contributors of the heavy traffic pattern. Our Lady of Lourdes church and school also contribute to the influx of traffic and San Salvador between Pinehurst and is NOT a Safe option especially with the sharp curve and the car that is usually parked there which further impedes the redirected traffic. The safest answer is to reopen Patricia Avenue - you don't have to go to school to figure that one out! but the reopening of school should remind us all that safety is first and this road reopening is vital.
Tricia August 19, 2011 at 02:32 PM
It is not responsible of our elected officials (City Commissioners) to act in a careless or apathetic fashion when it is not their neighbor hood that is effected by it. Mayor Eggers lives in the neighborhood affected and he voted to keep it open. Can you draw a logical conclusion: Keeping the road open is the Right Thing To Do. Do you not agree by diverting the traffic between Patricia Avenue and Pinehurst on San Salvador (the curve in particular with parked vehicles) is a safety hazard. EMT & Firefighters who are barred from publically speaking about this actually warned by union officials to speak out on this - agree that it takes longer to respond to 911 calls because they can not make that sharp curve in the road. San Jose Elementary & Our Lady of Lourdes School safety should also play a part in this decision. Patricia Avenue from San Salvador to San Christopher has had problems with people parking on both sides of the road allowing little room for traffic to pass. Now it is almost impossible to pass because houses on both sides have taken over the road. Just try to get by when lawnservice or any other services are being provided. This false sense of entitlement is also producing a very unsafe environment - all these factors should have been considered when officials quickly voted on its closure. This is still supposed to be a democracy where the people have a say - not a dictatorship!

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