When Ron Bowman addressed the Kennett Square Borough Council about road conditions last week, he was well grounded in his information. After all, he lives just a few yards away from the terrible Cypress and Walnut intersection that has seen death, injury and destruction through the years.Mr. Bowman expressed the same frustration that many Kennett area residents feel: That after years of begging for a stoplight and finally having it approved, that signal still had not appeared as of the meeting date.
As Mr. Bowman reported, there's usually an accident at least once a week and near misses several times a day. He said he has kept up to date by reading in the newspaper why there are delays, and he can't understand what's holding things up.
He also wondered why the curbs aren't painted yellow near intersections to let drivers know they can't park too close to the cross streets. And he reiterated his desire to see the borough street sweeper clear all the roads in town, not just uptown.
Mr. Bowman concluded by asking the council to replace the current head of public works with someone who can handle the job better.
Most of what he suggested is sound, especially the call for the stoplight installation. It is questionable, however, that it is the fault of the public works manager.
It's been years since council first talked about the light, but failed to act. Late last year, the board had it in its budget but then-acting Borough Manager Al Willard announced that he wasn't sure he wanted to spend the money on that project, and, it might cost more lives than it saved..
Finally, last spring, the council approved the light and told Mayor Leon Spencer it would be in place before the children returned to school.
Still, throughout September and October, public works manager Joe Scalise expressed his frustration that the parts had not yet come in, but it appears no one put any pressure on the providers to speed up the shipments.
In the matter of yellow paint near the intersection, the council dodged the issue at its last meeting by saying there had to be a formal action by the board to decide on the project.
What? Council recently passed a sweeping revision of the traffic code that included increasing the parking distance for drivers from 20 to 40 feet, so it's difficult to understand why they're bumbling over buying a few cans of paint to slather down along the road to enforce the new rules. Without the indication of the changed limits, how are drivers supposed to know how far they can park from the corner? Someone must cut through the red tape on this and get the paint on the road.
Finally, Mr. Bowman repeated his request for more street sweeping. That was not an unreasonable request in light of the fact that the service is paid for by taxpayers throughout the borough.
We believe Mr. Scalise is competent to handle those jobs, but he needs the support of his borough manager and the council to put those projects at the top of his list. The onus is on the manager and board to stand behind the public works manager and give him a list of priorities that is reflective of public needs. A team united behind the public works manager can get the jobs done, but without everyone pulling in the same direction, cars with continue to crash and Mr. Bowman will continue to be frustrated.