Fewer Drivers Running Clator Stop Signs

Sometimes it pays to speak up, as Clator resident Jamie O’Hare has found out since she and another resident did just that concerning drivers routinely ignoring a stop sign near the neighborhood playground at Diamond and Flynn avenues.

Slightly more than a week since she and Kim Fernatt took their concern to the Wheeling Traffic Commission, noting both have young children who play at the park, O’Hare said the situation has improved noticeably.

After monitoring the intersection at various times over a period of several months, O’Hare and Fernatt presented their findings to commission members on July 11. They played a roughly 90-second video that showed multiple drivers breezing through the stop sign, many without even slowing down.

Commission members didn’t grant the women’s request for speed bumps near the intersection, but they agreed to have city workers paint stop bars to reinforce where drivers are supposed to stop.

The meeting took place on a Thursday afternoon, and by the weekend O’Hare said a greater number of drivers appeared to be obeying the sign. She also has noticed a police presence at the intersection since she and Fernatt spoke with Deputy Police Chief Martin Kimball following the meeting.

“Immediately drivers were being ticketed or warned … ,” O’Hare said. “The stop bars and curb paint were applied within days.”

Wheeling Police Chief Shawn Schwertfeger couldn’t confirm whether officers had written any citations for stop sign violations in that location, but he said the issue has led to conversations within the department since the July 11 meeting. He said the intersection could be added to the department’s “selective enforcement list” – one of several new tactics Schwertfeger has introduced since taking over as chief a little more than a year ago.

That list is under development and will include problem areas where residents have reported issues, including improper parking and speeding. Those areas would receive increased attention from officers on patrol during slower activity periods.

The department’s state grant-funded “Target Red” program

Schwertfeger also addressed Fernatt’s claim during the meeting that a previous call to police to report the problem and request that an officer monitor the intersection was dismissed.

“I would hope that would not be the response of someone at the Wheeling Police Department. … We have to prioritize (complaints), but we take them all seriously. … If that’s the response they received, then that’s unfortunate,” Schwertfeger said.

O’Hare said she looks forward to working with police to build solidarity in the Clator neighborhood, and perhaps establish an organization similar to those that regularly meet in Warwood, East Wheeling, South Wheeling, Elm Grove and Woodsdale.

“A community group has existed here before, and I think having one could help promote awareness of community concerns and avenues to resolve those concerns,” she said.