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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.

Lawrence Twinam May 21, 2011 at 07:35 PM
The closeure is great it has reduced the traffic going up suemar drive. The "grafifiti" in question was by two little girls using washable colored chalk drawing a horse and some butterflies on the pavement. Keep up the good work City of Dunedin..
kathy whyte May 23, 2011 at 04:20 PM
My husband and I live on McCarty St close to Patricia......the closure is a MAJOR inconvenience to us....we now have to use Pinehurst whether we want to or not!!! PLEASE TAKE THE BARRICADE DOWN AND SOLVE THE PROBLEM WITH SPEED HUMPS AND SPEED ENFORCEMENT EFFORTS!!!!!!!
Cecilia May 24, 2011 at 01:05 PM
I live on Patricia between San Christopher and San Salvador and I am pleased by the closure. Ironically, it is a MAJOR inconvenience for me as I travel regularly to Palm Harbor. Having to go to Pinehurst Road takes me out of my way. However, Pinehurst is a double yellow lined road that was designed for heavier traffic flow than Patricia Avenue was. Patricia Avenue is part of a subdivision and was never intended to be a cut-through to avoid Pinehurst Road. Those of us living on this stretch of Patricia have suffered from it's use as thoroughfare for everyone's convenience. The drivers who have regularly used our neighborhood street have sped through at the speed of light. For a time the Sheriff's department put up a sign that caculated speed, regularly you could see 40-45 mph flashing and drivers did not slow until the reached the stop signed at the corner of San Salvador and Patricia. Parents have been afraid for their children to play in the front yards because of speeders. Having lived here for ten years, the street demographic has changed and there are multiple families with young children who are now beginning to be able to enjoy their fron yards safely. Insofar as grafitti being drawn, I have not seen any and after reading this article, I took a walk to the cordoned off area. Perhaps, it has already been removed or perhaps as one of the other commenters stated it was chalk. Either way, I have witnessed any. Continued next comment section
Cecilia May 24, 2011 at 01:11 PM
With regard to the unsightly barricade, I was told by Commission Barnett that would be replaced with a more neighborhood friendly appearance in the near future. It is unfortunate that many of my neighbors feel that they are being inconvenienced, I truly regret that. But please please put yourselves in the position of your neighbors who live on this stretch of Patricia Ave. We have been put in danger due to the excess speeders, I am sure it was none of you, traveling our straight strech of street. Please allow us to live peacefully and safely as you do on your neighborhood street. Please think of us when you are a bit inconveneinced by having to travel a double yellow lined street instead of stretch of residential street for your convenience. Clearly the safety vehicles that protect all of us are still able to reach their destinations in a timely manner. Please consider your neighbor's quality of life as you consider your convenience. I do feel badly that you are inconvenienced, but my street is no longer a race track because of this. Convenience or the safety of an entire street that has many families with children? You decide. Thank you for taking the time to consider this. Cecilia
Nick G. May 31, 2011 at 07:26 AM
The cut through traffic had become a documented safety hazard. The city was being responsible in trying to protect its citizens from a potential traffic disaster by first installing speed bumps. While this definitely reduced traffic on the roads who received the bumps, it created more traffic on those who did not. The only practical solution for the good of the entire neighborhood was to close the road. I am sure that if you asked 1000 people to sign a petition to eliminate the traffic light at Keene and 580 (Main Street) , or any of the other intersections where we all seem to wait an interminable amount of time at when trying to get somewhere "quickly", the majority of people would be happy to sign it. That doesn't mean it is the right thing to do though, does it? The city would be irresponsible and potentially negligent if it went by public pressure to remove the traffic light. I think this is the real issue here, no matter how inconvenienced people may be, if there is a safety hazard (which there is in this situation), the the appropriate measures should be taken. This is what the city has done, and I commend them.
Mark June 01, 2011 at 06:20 PM
I personally welcome the closing of Patricia at the McLean intersection. I live next to the intersection on McLean and can see and hear people speeding and blowing through the stop signs day and night. I can hear what I assume, is bar traffic, on the weekends around 1:00 and 2:00 a.m. to avoid detection, instead of using the main roads. It’s not the residents of Pinehurst highlands that pose a danger but, the people that use Patricia to cut through and have total disregard for the residents. I view a neighborhood as a sanctuary from the hustle bustle of commuting and traveling around town. It would be nice to be able to relax and not have to worry about the amount of traffic in front of my house and/or if it is safe for my child to play in the front yard. Just for the fun of it, I measured from the 4 way at Patricia and McLean to the intersection of Pinehurst and San Christopher via Patricia and then using McLean St. They were both exactly 6/10s of a mile. I can’t see where anyone would have to divert their current route much more than a ½ mile to get to their original point of leaving the neighborhood. The time and distance would be minimal and for how many times a day ? To save the death or injury to one child would be worth it for a lifetime.
Mark June 01, 2011 at 06:20 PM
Please consider that the 4 way intersection of Patricia and McLean is the focal point for ALL of the traffic from all of the streets from Jackmar to McLean. It is a totally different situation for people that live closer to the intersection and especially have children. I have noticed a marked difference in the neighborhood since the road was closed with children actually playing outside and riding their bikes. I could not believe the good fortune that fell upon us when the Commission decided to close the intersection and now I am in such despair to think that it may be reopened. Old habits are hard to break and I think with time we will agree it’s not that big of a deal to travel Pinehurst and/or San Christopher to get where we need to go. My comments are not as eloquent as Cecilia’s and certainly not intended to offend anyone but just a simple attempt to get a point across. Thank you, Mark
ilene June 02, 2011 at 10:53 AM
I just read Marks comments and it nearly brought me to tears. I live on McLean Street. I agree with Mark, Cecilia and Nick. The neighborhood streets had become a death trap, especially for kids, walkers, bicyclists and joggers. I have witnessed a disregard for all of these people and an increase in traffic over the years. I have heard many of the people who have been on the street since their homes were built in the early 1970's, tell stories of how wonderful it "used to be". How their kids "grew up playing together on the street", how it was " like a park" before the road was opened up, and how dangerous it has become over the years with the increased traffic and speeders. This neighborhood was built as a "destination" neighborhood. It was never intended to become a through route for commuters. The road was opened up for all the wrong reasons 17 years ago (this is all documented in the public record and everyone should read it). I applaud the city for making a decision (which was based on years of numerous and well advertised public feedback meetings, documented traffic studies, thorough due diligence and input from all city departments, including fire and EMS services as well as the Pinellas County Sheriff's department) which was the right decision. To those citizens who feel inconvenienced, I ask that you realize that all of us are "inconvenienced" too. I am happy though to take an extra minute or two to get somewhere knowing that I may have saved a life while doing so.
ilene June 02, 2011 at 10:57 AM
I also ask you to try and remember if you can, when you were a child, and what is was like to play with your friends outside, whether it was playing tag, a game of catch, or playing hop-scotch on the sidewalk. Please let the children of our neighborhood have the same opportunity to have those memories too, and safely. PS To Lawrence, I want to let you know that I have witnessed the "graffiti offenders" too. LOL PPS The only real graffiti that I have ever seen in the neighborhood happened 2 to 3 years ago, and that was long before the barricade was put up.
James Doncourt June 02, 2011 at 01:51 PM
All the closure did was PASS the problem on to other neighborhoods---now San Salvador, between Patricia and Pinehust has become a nightmare---cars zip thru there all day long, we have children here that no longer can play outside safely---what makes you think our children dont deserve those same safey rights---please dont be so narrow-minded and only think of your situation----hopefully the commisson will review all the petitions submitted and take down that unsightly barricade--James
Mark June 02, 2011 at 05:54 PM
James, we have been dealing with this problem (nightmare) for as long as this little section of Patricia has been open. I've been in living on McLean for 13 years. Patricia has been closed for what, a couple months now, and look at how strongly you feel about the traffic. Very quickly you turn to us as being narrow-minded for wanting the road closed and you wanting the road open again so you don’t have to deal with it. The long straight streets of Pinehurst Highlands, the connecting neighborhood and Patricia north of the 4 way allows, traffic to reach 40/45 mph (sometimes more) in addition to the volume. It is a big problem, and the city needs to do something to motivate traffic to stay on Pinehurst and San Christopher. These are less residential roads and where the “cut through traffic” need to travel. Pave the roads, raise the speed limit a bit, do something to make it more attractive for people to travel. Reopening Patricia is not going to solve the problem it’s only going to divert it again. Little by little we need to herd the traffic to where it needs to be, this is the first step. If we all work together and try to come up with a logical solution for everyone we will eventually arrive at something that works for everyone. If we divide and fight each other then it will only make everyone angry and accomplish nothing.
Mark June 02, 2011 at 05:55 PM
It is not my goal to argue with you or anyone else. This is something we are all obviously impacted by and feel very strongly about. Everyone's children deserve a safe place to play without constant worry of speeding cars. I hope you see this as me reaching out and not as a hostile rebuttal to you comment. Best Regards, Mark
John Darras Dubich June 21, 2011 at 12:25 PM
Lets block off all the streets that people speed on or that have children living on.
KK June 22, 2011 at 01:17 AM
Re: John's comment above... that's just crazy. oh wait.... is that sarcasm?
John Chidlow June 22, 2011 at 04:42 PM
Mr Twinam I just signed up for Dunedin Patch and read your comments about the "graffiti". I sincerely hope that is was not two little girls who wrote it, because it was certainly not butterflies or a horse. If fact it is too disgusting for me to repeat in this message, if you would like to see pictures of it, I can send them to you if you give me your email address. You can also request to see the copies I delivered to the city if you prefer. Be prepared, you may be offended by it, I certainly was since I have to live next to it.
John Chidlow June 22, 2011 at 05:58 PM
Mark, I only just signed up with the Dunedin Patch, which explains why I haven't replied earlier. I am interested to know exactly where you live, because I live on the corner of McLean and Patricia and you certainly do not live on the intersection. I have lived here for 25 years, two other neighbors for longer than me and the fourth since 2009. I have checked the tax records for other houses nearby and cannot find a Mark, you did say 13 years. So where do you live?
John Chidlow June 22, 2011 at 06:36 PM
Ilene do you want pictures of the graffiti as well as Lawrence, I can send them to you if you give me your email address. Not much point in delivering them to your house since you seem to live somewhere else most of the year.
John Chidlow June 22, 2011 at 07:44 PM
I find it very sad after 25 years to realize that I am living in a community that harbors such intolerance towards other neighbors and members of our wider community. I have lived in three different countries during my life, and I have never experienced such animosity and intolerance that some of my neighbors displayed towards residents of other neighborhoods who travelled through Pinehurst Highlands, before the closure of Patricia Avenue. Two such groups targeted were the school buses and people of faith travelling to Our Lady of Lourdes. For goodness sake, what is the problem with buses carrying children passing through ours or anyone else’s neighborhood? Shouldn’t we be waving to the children, knowing that they are safer travelling this way, rather than on a busier main road. With respect to the good Christian people travelling to church maybe twice a week, what an inconvenience that is, I don’t think so. Have you know compassion for the elderly lady who lives in Pinehurst Highlands, who has not been to church since the street closure, because she is scared of the traffic on Pinehurst and by the way I do not attend Our Lady of Lourdes, but I respect the right of any Dunedin resident to travel on the roads they pay for. More to follow......
John Chidlow June 22, 2011 at 07:45 PM
Can any of you who want Patricia closed honestly tell me that you don’t pass through someone else’s neighborhood to get where you want to go, people live on almost every street, road and avenue in Dunedin, with the exception of the section of Patricia Avenue that is closed. No house faces this section of Patricia. I find the comments about children playing in the street absolutely mind boggling. The whole issue of speed humps in Patricia Highlands started after Ilene’s cat was run over three years ago. I can sympathize with her over the cat, since our cat suffered the same fate, but we did not blame the driver, we accepted that it was our responsibility to keep the cat in the house. However, now Ilene is suggesting that children should play on streets that still carry several hundred cars a day. I would never allow my children or grandchildren to play on any street, even if there was only one car a day. More to follow......
John Chidlow June 22, 2011 at 07:46 PM
I agree that it is nice to have less traffic in the neighborhood, but I do not want it at the expense of others. The traffic from Pinehurst Highlands has now moved to San Salvador, if that street is closed it will move to San Christopher and then back along Patricia or one of the other streets that connect with San Salvador, and so on. I have the answer, let’s close Our Lady of Lourdes and San Jose School and why stop there, lets close the library, and I bet that will please the people who live on the “cut-through” street at the back of the library and the people who live on Douglas. Why can’t we learn to share the burden like civilized people and be tolerant of our neighbors even if they are from other sub-divisions, it’s the right thing to do.
John Darras Dubich June 22, 2011 at 07:59 PM
Right on John C! This closing also hinders access to the entrance to Hammock park on Patricia. This street closing is un-American and selfish. I think someone had some political pull.
Mark July 01, 2011 at 02:37 AM
It’s funny we try to make this about hate or not reaching out to the church members of OLL, being against the elderly, emergency vehicles are not going to be able to find us unless they are able to travel Patricia. None of this, from my stand point, is even close to the truth. We make wild comparisons like “why don’t we just shut down the city so no one can drive and then the problem is solved”. In reality, anyone to having to take a different route other than through our neighborhood via Patricia, you are maybe adding ½ mile to your trip, maybe. And how many times a day does one travel the route… once, twice a day? A very small personal “sacrifice” to make, the dividends are priceless. I personally have almost been hit in my front yard while cutting grass and close to being broad sided twice at the four way stop. It’s not about Ilene’s cat rather me, my wife and my child. Not to mention my neighbors and their children.
Mark July 01, 2011 at 02:37 AM
I would love for my child to be able to ride his bike, or play ball in the front yard without cars zipping by and at least feel a little better for my child’s personal safety We all can’t hide in our houses and pretend there is not an issue. The people you want to reach out to in other subdivisions and the good Christian people traveling to church are not reciprocating the love you are offering them. And for the elderly lady that is too old to drive on Pinehurst, reach out to her and offer her a ride to church. That would be a true statement for compassion and a very Christian thing to do. From my stand point, if they can’t use our roads responsibly then they don’t get to use them. Neither speed bumps or speed traps have not done anything to cut down on the volume nor the speed. If you look around our area, most neighborhoods are designed to not promote thru traffic, like ours used to be a few years ago
Mark July 01, 2011 at 02:38 AM
Please understand that the four way is the focal point for all of the traffic from Jackmar to McLean. It is a real problem for us who lives closer to the intersection and people seem not to care or want to try to understand our problem. Instead I’m being accused of hating our neighbors. It makes me wonder why someone is so willing to reach out to other subdivisions but, not their own subdivision. Why someone wouldn’t say, hey, maybe my neighbors have an issue and needs support. People are big boys and girls and will find a way to get to their destination even if the Patricia intersection is not available. On the flip side of the “selfish” argument, I can’t believe that my neighbors are not willing to drive less than ½ mile for the good of the community. That in my mind is selfish. I’m not going to respond to or read any more comments on this article. It is pointless to try to reason with all the excuses made up and probably written in a bulleted list somewhere. P.S As far as cutting through other sub-divisions, yes I can honestly tell you that I do avoid it at all cost. I plan my daily commutes allowing enough time to take Pinehurst and 580. I feel guilty cutting through someone’s neighborhood because I know, like me, they seek safety and peace where they live away from the hustle bustle of work and traffic.
John Chidlow July 22, 2011 at 06:17 PM
Now I know who you are Mark, I will allow you to continue along the path of anonymity you have chosen, by not revealing your identity. What puzzles me is why you are so vocal when it doesn't make any difference to you if Patricia is open or closed. Our bedroom is closer to Patricia than anyone in Pinehurst Highlands and the traffic noise has never bothered us day or night, even though my wife is a light sleeper. You live on McLean west of Patricia well away from the intersection, which means that no "cut-through" traffic passed by your house, and your comment that you were almost hit in your front yard has absolutely nothing to do with Patricia being open to through traffic. You must have superhuman hearing if you were disturbed by traffic at any time of the day. Not sure how you got hatred out of intolerance, that is a stretch, but you said it not me. Let me give you another example of what it means to others that the street is closed. There is a gentleman living in Glynwood Highlands who is totally dependant upon a pacemaker to keep him alive. If it were to fail he has only a few precious minutes to get to hospital. His EMS response vehichles would come from Michigan and now that Patricia is closed they would have to travel along Pinehurst to San Salvador or San Christopher then back north to his home. Can you imagine the additional delay if he were to need them when school is going in or out? He and his wife are very worried by the situation, any comment?
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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