City of Delafield buys speed signs for Cushing School
City of Delafield — After being warned that speeding motorists could be endangering the lives of Cushing Elementary School children, the common council on Dec. 21 quickly approved the purchase of two portable battery-powered radar speed signs.
The signs are intended to encourage motorists to slow down by flashing the speed at which oncoming vehicles are traveling.
Police Chief Erik Kehl said he intends to post the signs along northbound and southbound lanes of Genesee Street near the school zone.
Kehl said when the signs are not being used at the school, they will be posted in neighborhoods.
The speed signs collect data about the speed of vehicles that are passing the signs, according to Kehl.
Eventually, the signs can collect enough data in different locations that the city can learn where speed patrols are most needed, according to the chief.
Kehl and Cushing Principal Rebecca Toetz appeared at Monday’s common council meeting seeking approval for the speed signs, which were not included in the 2016 budget.
Toetz explained to the council that motorists who are exceeding the 15-mph school zone speed limit are endangering both students and crossing guards because they often have to stop abruptly because they are approaching the crossings at an excessive speed.
“At least twice a week, I get feedback about how cars exceeding the speed limit could be endangering the safety of schoolchildren,” Toetz later told Lake Country Publications.
Kehl told the council that he thinks the speed signs would be more effective at slowing down traffic than writing citations.
He said usually motorists are traveling only about 5 mph above the speed limit.
“Fortunately, it is congested enough through there that they really can’t get up much speed,” he said.
But, he added, it is difficult for officers to issue motorists tickets because stopping the motorists and issuing the citation blocks traffic along Genesee Street, particularly during the morning rush hour.
On the other hand, he said he has witnessed the effectiveness of the speed signs.
The city already has one such sign.
“I have noticed while I am driving in area where the sign is posted, you can see by the brake lights on the cars that people are applying their brakes and slowing down when they see the sign,” he explained.
Elected municipal officials are often reluctant to approve purchasing new equipment that was not included in the annual budget.
“But when it comes to saving lives, dollars don’t matter,” said Alderman Al Zietlow.
Kehl told the council members that he was confident that at the end of the year there would be enough surplus money in his budget that he could find the $7,500 needed to purchase the signs.
Alderman Chris Smith unsuccessfully tried to persuade the council to amend the 2016 capital projects budget and borrow the money for the signs rather than using the police department budget.
However, City Administrator Tom Hafner pointed out that the bonds used to borrow for capital projects would not be sold until April 2016.
He said if there were surplus funds available as a result of the bond sales, he would prefer a list of projects on which the money could be used be presented to the council and the council could decide then how that money should be spent.
Other members of the council concurred with Hafner that the money for the signs should come out of the department’s general fund budget rather than borrowing to pay for the signs.
Courtesy : Kelly Smith