Franklin council hears from concerned pedestrians

Franklin residents turned out in force at Monday’s city council meeting to discuss pedestrian safety.

“This is not a very pedestrian friendly town right now,” said Jean Rankin, who said she’s been hit at the pedestrian crosswalk at Washington Crossing and Liberty Street.

Rankin, who is visually impaired, demonstrated that she wears a bright yellow-green hat and sweater while walking so she is more easily seen by drivers. She said she relies on the audible crosswalk signals to cross.

After questioning from Mayor Doug Baker, Rankin said the intersection is an audible crossing, but she said drivers don’t adhere to traffic laws and signals.

“I’ve been hit there once, I don’t want it to happen again,” she said.

Bev Hart, who said she has been to multiple council meetings to address the crossing problems at the same intersection, said her dog was hit in February while she was walking the dog across the road.

“I’m shooting for a four-way stop. I’m here to fight this fight. I can storm this council with multiple people…I can do that,” Hart said.

The four-way stop Hart referenced would be the same as at the intersection of 13th and Liberty streets where all traffic is halted and a loud ringing signals to pedestrians that they can safely cross.

“When drivers hear those bells they stop,” Hart said.

Ralph Reed, who uses a motorized wheelchair, said he’s been hit twice at a different intersection while obeying the walk signal.

“There’s nothing to stop (drivers),” Reed said.

Hart suggested that society as a whole has become complacent toward aggressive driving and asked that council help put an end to it.

“Let’s just stop and think about our pedestrians,” she said.

Baker suggested council make a motion to have City Manager Tracy Jamieson look into what can be done at the Washington Crossing and Liberty Street intersection, specifically a four-way stop like 13th and Liberty.

“If our signal is telling people that are visibly impaired that it’s safe to cross when it’s clearly not, that’s up to us,” Baker said.

But the mayor also said nothing council would do would make the intersection “completely safe.”

The motion passed unanimously. Jamieson said nothing could be done to the intersection immediately as the city will have to budget for any project that would be undertaken.

In other business Monday, council will hold a hearing for the re-zoning of lots 182 A and B in the 1000 block of Liberty Street at 6 p.m. Monday, June 18.

The lots, which sit next to Advance Auto Parts, were the site of a residence that burned down about four years ago. The space is currently zoned as residential and would be re-zoned to a central business district if council approves the change.

City solicitor Brian Spaid said much of the block is already zoned as a central business district.

There is a seven-stall garage that sits on the back lot that the current owners, Dottie and Mike Hagerty, plan to turn into a walk-up ice cream shop that will serve dinner twice a week.

The projected season for the shop would be May through October, Dottie Hagerty said.

After the zoning hearing, council will hold a special meeting in which the panel will vote on the zoning change.