Councilors, police address speeding concerns in Greenfield

  • Wells Street at Arch Street in Greenfield. A forum was held earlier this week at the request of Precinct 8 Councilor Doug Mayo, who said he has had constituents approach him with complaints about speeding, particularly on Conway, Chapman and Wells streets. Staff Photo/Paul Franz

Staff Writer
Published: 10/20/2021 5:46:04 PM

GREENFIELD — Acknowledging a growing number of complaints from residents about speeding over the past year, officials began a discussion earlier this week on ways those concerns are being addressed now as well as moving forward.

At a Community Relations and Education Committee meeting earlier this week — organized at the request of Precinct 8 Councilor Doug Mayo for the purpose of offering residents a chance to speak to these concerns — only a few residents turned out. Mayo, who chairs the Community Relations and Education Committee, said previously he has had constituents approach him with complaints about speeding, particularly on Conway, Chapman and Wells streets.

“Elm Street, it’s brutal,” commented Elm Street resident Jon Dobosz. “Especially during rush hour. There was definitely somebody going 70 to 80 miles per hour past our house.”

Dobosz described the portion of the street right before the Franklin County Jail and House of Correction and to the crest of the hill.

“This has been an issue for years and anything would be helpful,” he said, acknowledging that it typically is a question of money and available resources. He added that he’s noticed an increased presence of officers in recent weeks, “which has been encouraging.”

In addition to Elm Street, Public Works Director Marlo Warner II said his office has received a significant number of complaints from residents on Chapman and Haywood streets, the latter of which is among the locations where the department plans to place a radar sign in the near future.

“The emails have increased in the last year, but we get a lot of phone calls and a lot of walk-ins, also,” Warner said, echoing City Council President Penny Ricketts’ comments on the emails she and other councilors receive regularly about speeding. “I noticed it’s ramped up — I would say in the last year is a good guess.”

In response to Ricketts’ questions about what residents should be reporting to the Greenfield Police Department, Police Sgt. Jason Haskins said that, in general, providing as much specific information as a person can get is helpful — the area where the incident occurred, make and model of the vehicle, and license plate number, for example.

That said, information such as a license plate number is for information gathering, and can’t necessarily be used against an individual unless an officer witnesses that person speeding.

Police Sgt. Christopher Greene said that, as of Oct. 1, the department has organized a team of “community response officers.”

“What that means is we take stuff like traffic complaints and I work with Jason Haskins and the other sergeants to deploy resources out from the data … or where the complaints are.”

Haskins noted that sometimes it’s a matter of perception — what one resident might consider speeding isn’t legally speeding.

“We have to target this not only with data, but education,” he added, explaining that while the legal definition of speeding is 1 mph over the speed limit, the court won’t address anything under 10 mph over the speed limit, which is also what officers tend to look out for.

The city currently has a speed trailer with a covert box that can be used to collect and track data, Haskins said. Warner also noted the city has speed radar signs, and hopes to receive more.

“(Speed radar signs) have been fairly effective, but we’ve only got one set,” Warner said. “We’re trying to figure out how we pull the data from these radar signs so we can get a percentage of speeding cars in a three-week frame. That’s kind of where we are with that.”

Warner noted that lately the city has received many complaints resulting from detours associated with the closure of the General Pierce Bridge between Greenfield and Montague. In particular, the reports are for speeding trucks — though Warner said in his observations, the trucks aren’t necessarily speeding, but because they’re “big, loud and obnoxious,” people perceive them to be.

Both Warner and the police officers at this week’s meeting said they plan to work collaboratively to address residents’ concerns. Ricketts added that residents should continue to keep councilors informed of their concerns.

“The more we know and the more we understand,” Ricketts said, “the more informed I am when it comes to budget time, too.”

Reporter Mary Byrne can be reached at mbyrne@recorder.com or 413-930-4429. Twitter: @MaryEByrne


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