Traffic safety concerns for Morrison Avenue residents

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Several residents of Morrison Avenue expressed safety concerns to the Waterloo City Council on Monday night related to increased traffic before and after school on their street.

“It’s a disaster with traffic, speed,” Morrison Avenue resident Lynn Polk told the council. 

Greg Lane, who has lived on Morrison Avenue about a year, said this street has been serving as a “cut-through” to the nearby schools as a way to bypass morning and afternoon traffic on South Market Street.

“In the morning, before school from say 7:30, 8 o’clock, it’s a racetrack,” Lane said. “They go 40 to 50 miles an hour through Morrison Avenue, length to length.”

Residents added that the 500 and 600 blocks of Morrison – between Sycamore Street and Route 156 (Front Street) – seem to be the worst area during these times.

A resident in the 500 block of Morrison Avenue said he lives next to the stop sign at Sycamore Street.

“It’s a suggestion to stop,” he told the council. “They don’t stop. If anything, they speed up.”

These residents asked if more stop signs could be placed along this area of Morrison Avenue or if speed bumps could be installed, to which Waterloo Mayor Tom Smith and some aldermen replied that state law doesn’t allow it.

“State law says you can’t use stop signs to control speeds,” Smith said.

Another suggestion was to place “Slow: Children at Play” signs in the area.

Smith asked Waterloo Police Chief Jeff Prosise about this situation, and he said at the meeting that his officers have conducted extra patrols and placed speed signs there recently. 

Smith suggested that police begin running radar in the times of day mentioned and begin writing tickets if necessary.

“Right now, we have a problem on Morrison Avenue,” Smith said. “Once the people start getting tickets, it will slow it down.”

Prosise concluded by saying “you’ll see increased police presence” on Morrison Avenue going forward.

On the heels of a Red Flag Warning issued by the National Weather Service in St. Louis due to dangerous fire weather conditions caused by prolonged dry and windy conditions, the council on Monday night passed a resolution banning all outdoor burning and other fires in city limits effective immediately until further notice.

By a vote of 6-2, the council approved an ordinance amending the salaries of elected city officials.

The approved salary of aldermen holding office after the 2017 election is $10,650 annually, with a 1.5 percent increase applied  each year thereafter. The salary after the 2025 election will be $11,820 with a 2.5 percent annual increase applied thereafter.

For city clerk, the salary after the 2015 election was $12,315 with an annual increase of 1.5 percent thereafter. After the 2025 election, that salary will be $14,090 with an increase of 2.5 percent annually thereafter.

For mayor, the annual salary after the 2015 election was $16,000 with an annual 1.5 percent increase applied thereafter. After the 2025 election, that salary increases to $18,300 with a 2.5 percent annual increase thereafter in addition to $1,000 per year for serving as liquor commissioner.

The city treasurer salary will increase to $9,400 after the 2025 election with a 2.5 percent annual increased applied thereafter.

As for special city council meetings, those attending are paid one 36th of their annual salary. 

The elected officials also get paid $50 per public hearing attended. After the 2025 election, city officials will get paid $75 per committee meeting attended  – $100 if committee chairman – up from $35 and, if chairman, $50. 

Aldermen Russ Row and Jim Hopkins voted against the salary amendment.

Hopkins told the Republic-Times he didn’t think the salary changes were needed.

“What we’re getting now is adequate to cover all expenses for an alderman,” he said.

In other news from the meeting, Waterloo Director of Public Works Tim Birk said a sidewalk replacement project on the south side of West Mill Street between Main Street and Church Street is underway, with the hope that it will be completed over the next few weeks.

Smith also said the Pontiac Firebird Fest will return to downtown Waterloo in 2023 following a successful showing in town this past May. There are already 91 vehicles signed up for next year’s event. 

The council approved a memorandum of understanding and settlement agreement with International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 309. An agenda item to enter executive session regarding “collective negotiating matters” was removed from Monday’s meeting slate.

The council did go into executive session briefly to discuss “pending litigation,” but no action was taken following that closed session.

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