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Village doesn't lower enforcement speed on Washington St.

November 17, 2010 - Motorists who travel M-24 should thank their lucky stars that local traffic enforcement isn't overseen by the Oxford Downtown Development Authority.

If it was, police would be ticketing them for driving even one mile over the posted speed limit.

Last week, the village council voted 5-0 to simply receive and file the DDA board's recommendation to lower the "enforcement speed" on Washington St. (M-24) to match the posted 30 mile-per-hour speed limit.

In other words, instead of having police use their discretion regarding when to issue a speeding ticket as they do now, the DDA board recommended they pull over drivers who travel at any speed above the posted 30 mph limit.

The DDA board made the recommendation at its Oct. 18 meeting as part of its ongoing efforts to calm M-24 traffic and make the downtown more pedestrian-friendly.

However, the idea of lowering the enforcement speed didn't receive a warm reception from council.

"The DDA is asking for us to direct our police to pull people over if they're doing 31 miles an hour. Is that what I'm hearing?" said Councilman Tony Albensi. "That is the strong arm of government to pull somebody over for doing 31 in a 30 mile-an-hour zone."

"I respect our officers' judgment and so I would be inclined to vote against anything that would seriously interfere with the officers' discretion in enforcement," said Councilman Dave Bailey. "We've got good officers. They know what they're doing."'

Police Chief Mike Neymanowski explained that traffic enforcement is a "discretionary" area for law enforcement.

"I don't give (my officers) any specifics (saying) you've got to write so many tickets," he said.

The chief indicated officers generally target drivers who are doing 10 or more miles per hour over the posted limit.

"They're the ones that are causing the unsafe conditions in our downtown area," Neymanowski said. "Somebody's doing 31 (or) 32 (mph) I don't think they're going to be a danger."

Albensi noted he thinks the police department already does a "great job" enforcing speed limits throughout the village.

Despite his disagreement with the idea of lowering the enforcement speed, Neymanowski indicated he's willing to work with the DDA.

"If the DDA thinks there's a speed problem on M-24, certainly I will pick up my enforcement," he said.

Village Manager Joe Young told council that "trucks are the biggest problem" downtown. "They not only speed, but they stir up the dust and the wind. Just calming them down would help a lot between the noise, the dust, the wind."

Albensi said that a gravel hauler, whether it's doing 25 or 40 mph is going to kick up dust and make noise. "I appreciate the business owners having to deal with that. "It's unfortunate, but it's the reality of what our downtown is."

CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.
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