Thursday, May 28th, 2009
By William Kincaid
Worried Celina grandmother views adjacent alley as super-speedway
Echo Street resident asks city officials for speed bump or other remedy
  Celina resident Diana Harruff says there's not a moment she doesn't worry about the safety of her grandchildren and other neighborhood kids on Echo Street.
For 15 years Harruff and her husband, Rick, have lived at 612 Echo St., which is directly adjacent to an alley that she calls a super-speedway.
Motorists zoom through the alley at any given time of day, disregarding the safety of children and the speed limit of 10 miles per hour, she says.
"From that way to this way is a speedway," she says, adding that drivers are going even faster since the alley was resurfaced last year.
She says her family has unsuccessfully petitioned city administration and the police department for any kind of speed enforcement or safety measure for many years now. Because of the lack of intervention, Harruff says she has told her grandchildren to never step foot near the alley.
"We can't go on it - people will hit us," Harruff's 4-year-old granddaughter Karley says.
Harruff said a majority of the speeders are neighbors, Reynolds and Reynolds employees as well as other drivers.
"If someone loses control now, they're going to end up in our house - people just disregard safety," she says.
Harruff says when motorists drive as fast as 35 miles per hour, they are not going to have time to react to a wandering child.
"You're not going to have enough time to stop," she says.
Harruff said a speed bump was placed in the alley years ago but eventually taken out because Celina Safety Service Director Jeff Hazel said it was a liability to the city. She said Hazel suggested she keep her children out of the alley.
Asked what she wants done, Harruff said anything - the posting of children-at-play or more speed limit signs, a speed bump or prosecution of speeding motorists.
"As property owners, I think we are entitled to a speed bump," she says, explaining that her family takes great pride in keeping up the appearance of their home and are taxpayers of the city.
In the past, Harruff said her husband have videotaped speeders and even confronted a driver for going too fast. That confrontation, according to Harruff, resulted in her husband being punched in the face by the motorist.
"The law is tying our hands and we can't do anything to protect ourselves," she says.
Celina Police Chief Dave Slusser said he is aware of the situation - having personally watched motorists in the alley - and sympathizes with the Harruff's safety concerns.
"I've watched the traffic flow go through there," he says.
But there's little the department can do as many of the motorists are going the speed limit. Not all are speeders, he says.
The problem, according to Slusser, is the proximity of the house to the alley - a design issue that was probably made 50 years ago.
"The alley is in the yard - there's no separation, there's no buffer, there's no right-of-way extension," Slusser said.
Traffic flow has increased and some drivers may have become less conscientious, Slusser said, adding that it's a bad situation.
Slusser also pointed out the Harruffs were aware of the closeness of the alley to the house when they purchased the home.
Until something is done, the Harruffs are building a large wooden play set in the middle of the yard to keep the children away from the alley.
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