Stacy resident leads effort to bring speeds down in housing development

What really got Stacy residents to pack City Hall for the August regular meeting Aug. 14 was the safety of area youth.

Michelle Kok, a resident of Stacy’s Fox Tail Woods development, addressed the council in the public comment time.

“People are driving way too fast,” Kok said.

She estimated there are 70 children living in her neighborhood, which lacks park or open space, and she said it is unfair to confine kids to their yards.

Kok said she had emailed her concerns to both Stacy and Chisago County officials, and along with her neighbors, she asked for help.

“All I am asking for is something to slow people down,” she said. Kok said they were willing to try signs, speed bumps, “anything that would help.”

Kok also requested the speed limit on 302nd Street be lowered from 30 mph to 25 mph, or even lower. This would require a survey by law enforcement and the process of getting the county involved.

Kok said she has gone so far as to pull up a chair on her driveway to shout at drivers to slow down. She said the response was some of the drivers had stopped and apologized and lowered their speed. Kok described a pattern: typically higher speeds at rush hour times.

Another resident interjected, “It (excessive speed) goes on all day long.”

“Are these your neighbors or are they from outside?” Councilor Michael Carlson asked.

Kok answered that many of the alleged speeders are people who live in the development. She told the council that one particularly belligerent neighbor had threatened to run over the children when Kok had called her out on her excessive driving speed. Councilor Jim Ness asked for two more “children at play” signs for 302nd Street.

“It won’t be that much money,” Ness said.

Mayor Mark Utecht agreed.

“It’s an effort,” he said.

Utecht then addressed Kok.

“I applaud you for taking on something that affects your neighbors and your family,” he said.

Utecht asked for law enforcement’s opinion. Chisago County Deputy Derek Anklan was present to represent the Sheriff’s Office. Kok’s complaints and messages had been passed along to Anklan for review.

Anklan suggested a temporary speed bump, a type that can be removed in the winter but will not damage emergency or low-rider vehicles. Kok added she had spoken with neighbors, and many residents in the development are willing to share the cost of purchasing speed bumps.

Anklan said the type of temporary speed bumps he suggested have been installed in Center City on Grand Avenue and said, “These have been very effective.”

Placement would be every half block. It was estimated that four speed bumps would need to be purchased. A resident asked if the city could contribute for the cost of purchasing speed bumps.

“Nothing is off the table, but if it costs the city money, it’s less likely to happen,” Utecht said.

Utecht and colleagues then endorsed the speed bump plan. The mayor said, “As long as there is no objection from law enforcement and public works, who am I to say no?”

Anklan also offered use of the speed trailer, which posts the speed of the oncoming motorists and prompts a response to slow down if they are speeding. Another resident offered use of her residential service to plug the sign into.

Utecht requested that in the interim, law enforcement patrols be shifted to evenings and nights.

Kok, meanwhile, already has a strategy to pay for the speed bumps. Kok said she is working on creating and selling a community calendar to raise funds. She suggested the deputy participate.

“I need one more guy,” Kok said. This received much laughter and a last round of kudos for Kok’s efforts.

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