The City of Homer will decide at its next meeting whether or not to provide almost $100,000 for improvements in the Old Town neighborhood. Business owners, workers and residents in the area have been pushing for safety upgrades and improved walkability.
The money would come out of the Homer Accelerated Roads and Trails Program fund, which is also known as the HART fund. Folks in the neighborhood have been asking for trails, bike and pedestrian paths, crosswalks and slower traffic. Supporters have said the HART money is the perfect match for this type of project.
Adele Groning is the assistant director at Bunnell Street Arts Center. She frequently walks through the neighborhood in every season, and sometimes brings along her two small children. Groning spoke during last month’s Homer City Council meeting in favor of making pedestrian safety more of a priority in the neighborhood.
“Sometimes plain old walking from point A to point B is not always nice and sometimes downright hostile. There are patchwork trails and segments of sidewalks. We walk on the edges of ditches, on shoulders of roads and sometimes in the roadway itself,” she said.
She said at certain times of the week, there are more people walking than driving. I saw a bit of that myself while sitting at the corner of Bunnell Avenue and Main Street around lunch time Tuesday. Many of the pedestrians who were heading toward Bishop’s Beach were either in the middle of the road or walking through the gravel on the right side. Some were cutting through yards.
The majority of the vehicles were hospitable and either slowed down or moved to the side to avoid the people walking. But that isn’t always the case if you ask Lisa Zats. She and her husband own a business in Old Town.
“There’s so much speeding that goes on there. I’m practically a frequent flyer calling the Homer Police trying to get them down there to catch somebody who has been speeding. And so I really think that a priority needs to be the removable speed bumps,” she said.
Zats said she also would like to see the speed limit reduced from the current 25 mph. There will be a public hearing Monday night during the city council’s next regular meeting. The council is expected to act on the measure at that time.
This is only one piece of the revitalization plan for the neighborhood. Bunnell Street Arts Center recently received a $150,000 grant to help turn Old Town itself into a canvas.