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This week we fix signs and calm traffic

This sign needs an addendum, but maybe “Unless you’re a cyclist or a pedestrian” won’t quite fit. (Courtesy)

Dear Action Line: The sign encountered when approaching the Durango Community Recreation Center from the north on East Second Avenue – “No Recreation Center Access” – is unwelcoming. For some pedestrians and cyclists, groups Durango is supposedly friendly toward, this is THE route to the center. Instead of “No Recreation Center Access,” it might as well say “Rec Ctr Ahead. Go Away!” Since you are an author and pride yourself as an authority on grammer, could you suggest a reasonably worded sign to the city for a replacement? And then there is a sign in front of the La Plata County Fairgrounds. This is a covered seating area with two park benches and appears to be a comfortable place to sit. However, the “No Loitering” sign might as well say “Keep Out.” Please fix this sign too while you’re at it. – Signs of Trouble

Dear Trouble: Seriously, this question, and you can’t spell grammar correctly? The questioner, when questioned, tried to explain that “something went wrong” when writing the question. Is Action Line buying that questionable explanation? Hmmpphhh.

First, about the rec center sign. It was posted there by the city’s Street Division several years ago after residents on East Second Avenue complained about vehicles accessing, or attempting to access, the rec center and the Boys & Girls Club. Living on a similar dead-end street with constant turnarounds, Action Line gets it. It’s annoying and unnecessary.

How about, “No vehicle rec center access.” Or maybe, “Residential Access Only.” Or, “Self-powered rec center access only.” Or, “Does this LOOK like a through street?”

The primary vehicle access to the rec center is from the intersection of 27th Street and Main Avenue, pointed out Cathy Metz, as one of her final responses to Action Line before retiring as the city’s Parks and Recreation director. You can also drive over from the fairgrounds, but maybe it’s better not to mention that. So we won’t.

On to the fairgrounds sign. Originally this was a Durango Trolley stop. Now, it’s just a place to “stand or wait around idly or without apparent purpose” – the actual definition of “loiter” as provided by Darrin Parmenter, the county’s Colorado State University Extension Office director.

“I’m not sure when the last time was the Trolley stopped there,” Parmenter said. “A purpose existed back then. Now? Not sure.”

This nice covered area, apparently constructed with leftover brick from the old fairgrounds, is a popular place to loiter, despite what the sign indicates. (Courtesy)

High school students swooped in and claimed the spot as their own. And they disregard or do not understand the sign.

“They trash the place with empty energy drink cans, spicy fried snack wrappers and who knows what else,” Parmenter said. “I couldn’t image anyone wanting to hang out there, especially during the school year.”

Emily Spencer, general manager of the fairgrounds and event center, suggested the sign say, “Purposeful loitering only.” Action Line is a sucker for a good oxymoron. Let’s go with that.

Dear Action Line: Why am I the only one who drives the speed limit on 32nd Street? And why aren’t police patrolling and issuing tickets? The city could make enough money in citations on this street alone to finance the pedestrian bridge in a week! – Ima Lightfoot

Dear Ima: Are you really the only one?

“The answer to that is, ‘yes,’” said Ron Wysocki, officer with the Durango Police Department.

Hey readers, he was joking! It’s perfectly acceptable to drive 25 mph on 32nd Street. Many people over the years have been observed doing just that. Action Line has done it. Put it on your bucket list. Twenty-five is the speed limit on 32nd from Main Avenue all the way to Holly Avenue, or vice versa. Try it.

“We’ve been getting increased complaints” about speeding on 32nd Street, Wysocki said last week. “When citizens call, we put it on a hot sheet.”

And what happens when a stretch of road makes it to the top of the hot sheet? That’s right, extra patrol. And more tickets. And more revenue to pay for the pedestrian bridge. It’s all such a nifty cycle, just like the circle of life.

Action Line witnessed an officer patrolling this stretch in just the last few days. When officers focus on a section of road, Wysocki said, the overall speeds noticeably drop. Then the speeds slowly increase again when officers move along to another spot. Yes, police do have an effect on people.

As many of you know, school started for many children last week, including those in Durango. (Note to parents: That is why your kids have suddenly disappeared for several hours each day.) For this item, the relevance is that patrol officers have turned their attention to school zones, where drivers have to go UNDER 25 mph. It’s 20 mph in most places.

So, don’t speed in school zones. People take those very seriously.

And really, that 25 mph thing on 32nd Street? It’s not impossible. Go ahead, dare ya. Take the challenge: Try it sometime.

Email questions and suggestions to actionline@durangoherald.com or mail them to Action Line, The Durango Herald, 1275 Main Ave., Durango, CO 81301. For extra credit try this, too: Come to a FULL STOP when going through a stop sign. It’s difficult, but it can be done!