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Addressing safety concerns

Published September 25. 2010 09:00AM

Dear Editor:

Attention: All travelers on North Street (Route 903) in Jim Thorpe

This is the second article I have written regarding the proposed construction of a carwash in the 200 block of North Street. In this article I will address the safety concerns more specifically and the dangers they present to all travelers on North Street.

If a carwash was built with an entrance and exit in the middle of the block on North Street, as is currently proposed, Mr. Mason estimates that a minimum of 10,950 cars a year (the break even point financially) would use the facility. With 10,950 cars exiting the carwash that means a minimum of 21,900 times a year cars traveling north and south on North Street would be inconvenienced or put an increased risk for an accident. Remember these are minimum break even number projections and in reality the numbers would likely be much higher. Also, North Street travelers consider this inconvenience and potential danger to you will not be for one year but for many, many years into the foreseeable future.

Second, in talking with the bridge engineer who is in charge of the new proposed bridge to be built with a tie in to existing streets at Front Street and North Street, he told me that there will be no essential grade change at the tie in point.

The effect on North Street travelers is that the grade or rise from Front Street going up North Street will remain intact. Travelers going north on that section of North Street would have a very short distance from the top of the grade to the entrance to the carwash to react to a stopped car in the middle of the street trying to turn left into the carwash. My estimated distance is about 125 feet.

Since an erected carwash would be on North Street for many years into the future, I feel justified going back many years in the past recalling the accident history of the 200 block of North Street.

The history of just the 200 block alone - when I lived at 229 North Street (in the 60s and 70s - much, much less traffic) our family car was hit four times. As a pedestrian, my uncle was killed crossing the street, the current 329 North Street resident and his car hit, a former tenant at 227 North Street had his car hit, two current tenants on North Street each have had their mirrors damaged from cars traveling south, and recently, from 2000 to 2004, when I lived at 227 North Street, my car was hit two times - once bad enough to bend the car frame, such that I got rid of the car.

All of these accidents occurred to parked vehicles on the side of the street that the current proposed carwash would be on.

What will happen when 21,900 plus cars per year enter and exit North Street in the middle of the block? For many years into the future?

Facts supplied me by the Jim Thorpe Police Department showed that from September 2009 until September 2010, a one year time span, there were 11 reportable and 16 nondeportable accidents on North Street or 27 accidents per year, an average of 2.25 accidents per month. Also on a given day when the police department does speed checks they write about 20 tickets. The good news is these numbers are better than previous year.

These numbers suggest that North Street already has inherent risk due to traffic and demographics. Do we really want to increase that risk by allowing 21,900 plus cars a year entering and exiting a main highway in the middle of the block with at the very least, a line of sight concern?

I submit to the public that very often "good guys" are on the wrong side of issues. In this instance, I and many others believe this to be the case. I believe that the quality of life and the safety and welfare of a neighborhood are at stake versus the right of one man to pursue profits at the expense and safety of the neighborhood he wants to serve.

For the Zoning Hearing Board, it is a question of protecting the quality of life and property of local residents, securing the integrity of the neighborhood, and promoting the safest driving conditions for all travelers on a street with a defined history of death and accidents versus passing a "special exception use" for one man so he can bring a commercial enterprise into a residential area.

Make no mistake about it, what Mr. Mason wants to do at this moment in time is illegal and can only be sanctioned legal if the zoning board gives him approval.

"With great power comes a great responsibility." The Zoning Hearing Board has been given GREAT POWER BY THE Borough Council. The Zoning Hearing Board can enhance or degrade neighborhoods with their decision. Their GREAT RESPONSIBILITY is to the entire community of Jim Thorpe - not to me, not to Mr. Mason.

Respectfully submitted,

Terry Watto

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