On Dec. 1, an 8-year-old girl was struck by a car on Rumbough Place in West Asheville. The accident didn’t surprise residents, who say motorists often use the street as a cut-through and drive too fast.
While speed may not have been a factor in the accident, according to the Asheville Police Department, city staff say they want to help. Asheville Transportation Department Director Ken Putnam adds,"The reality remains, of course, money is tight. We will do what we can to answer their concerns."
West Asheville residents Erik Moellering, Thomas Wagner, David Mosrie and Emily Bidwell met with city staff on Dec. 6. While the meeting was “really positive [and] some great communication was opened,” says Bidwell, residents continue to push for safety improvements.
Rumbough runs along the eastern border of Malvern Hills Park, and that’s where the ad hoc group spoke with Xpress to reiterate their concerns.
As they sat in the park’s picnic pavillion, a Papa John's pizza-delivery car zipped down the street. "Pretty fast," said Wagner. "I called the store [on Patton Avenue] to tell them. ... I get [that] they have to use the street ... but there is a park here, and well, a child was hit here last week."
Wagner's emails to Asheville city staff about safety on the street go back more than a year, and Moellering’s almost as far.
The city, they said, has responded with a variety of studies, such as a new four-way stop at the intersection of Salola and Carrier streets, which both feed into Rumbough.
The stop signs have helped somewhat but have not slowed traffic appreciably, said Wagner. It is not uncommon to see cars speeding through the neighborhood as they bypass the Patton Avenue and Haywood Road bottlenecks, he explained. "We see a lot of construction trucks, contractors, guys like that — a lot more than could be working around here."
The injured girl will recover, he continued, "But what about the next time? Whose kid is next?"
Rumbough Place becomes one-way in the summer when the Malvern Hills pool is open. "We all have had to get cars towed out of our driveway," said Wagner of that busy period, when parking overflows into the neighborhood. "Sometimes the trash does not get picked up. I have had people move my trash can to park in my driveway."
Moellering added, "Brevard Road, Haywood Road, Patton Avenue, Leicester Highway — everyone knows those roads are clogged certain times of day. People need to remember this is still a neighborhood and have a little respect."
For more information, go to the West Asheville Watch website http://avl.mx/o2. Bill Rhodes — who contributes to WAW — can be reached at 251-1333, ext. 144, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bill Rhodes can be reached at 251-1333, ext. 144, or email@example.com.