Mares and Fresquez sign install

Elijah Mares (left) and Daniel Fresquez installed “Children at Play” signs along Valley Drive Tuesday in an effort to slow traffic. The neighborhood street, with a 20 mph speed limit, is a major thoroughfare for Walmart shoppers coming from the east side of town. Few drivers obey the speed limit. Friday and Saturday nights are the worst, with speeding cars and loud mufflers and music. Sunday morning always brings fast food trash. Go to page B1 for the Public Safety Committee story.

   City officials discussed further steps to address speeding in the Valley Estates neighborhood during two city committee meetings last week, with some solutions gaining a foothold in the Public Works committee with others faltering in Public Safety.

    City of Espanola Public Works Director Stephen Trujillo discussed two solutions to the issue in  a Nov. 30 Public Works Committee meeting, including speed bumps and making the street one-way.

    “After the last Public Works meeting, Elijah (Mares), myself and Daniel Fresquez went out to check the area, to see where we could place speed bumps strategically without them being in a driveway or interrupting anybody’s property,” he said. “There is a total of three speed bumps that we would be able to install, We talked with every homeowner in the addresses and they were all in favor of adding those three speed bumps.”

    A second suggestion was to make the street one-way from Riverside through to McCurdy Road. Elijah Mares of the Streets Department then discussed a third solution of adding additional “Child at Play” signs, which have already been acquired but the city needs additional permission from property owners to place signs in their yards.

    Committee chair Dennis Tim Salazar said he wanted the speedbumps and possibility of making the road one-way to be discussed by the whole City Council at its next meeting on Dec. 8. Speedbumps, if approved, would not be installed until spring.

Mobile radar

    Separately, the Public Safety Committee previously discussed buying a movable radar camera trailer that automatically issues citations, or other radar speed signs that don’t issue citations. Police Chief Roger Jimenez discussed the costs of the camera trailer during a Dec. 1 meeting.

    “It comes out to about $5,500 a month,” Jimenez said. “The way they do it is, $40 per citation, and in order for us to get our money’s worth or money back and pay for itself we would have to issue about 148 citations a month,” he said. “That’s the full service, they will deploy it, they will move it around for us, they will do everything that we need to do, all we’ll need to do is sign the citations and show up in court.”

    The device could only be deployed on city roads, not on the main state roads which run through town and are the main source of traffic citations.

    Councilor Peggy Sue Martinez expressed her concern for the cost and where the money would be coming from.

    “Utter disappointment on the cost of this situation,” she said. “I read the number and I was just really disappointed. The situation is 148 citations, but the kicker in it all is that 148 citations of that money goes directly out of our community. That’s where the issue is for me, we’ll never see $5,000 a month, and to take that money out of the business community, I don’t know what the balance is, I’m trying to strike the balance in my mind and it’s hard to figure out.”

    The company that provided the quotes for the radar, Stalker Radar Applied Concepts, Inc., is based in Richardson, Texas. Chief Jimenez said he had reached out to another unspecified company for a second quote on similar services.

    Other options for radar-based solutions include moveable signs on trailers that simply display the driver’s speed but don’t provide any enforcement. Jimenez had some details on those devices and estimated it to be about a $4,900 one-time cost, but Committee Chair Justin Salazar Torrez said he wanted to get more specific information before suggesting anything to the entire city council for approval.

    Councilor Manny Martinez supported the moveable radar signs.

    “When you’re looking at $5,000 a month and over 100 citations for that, we should invest in another police officer, that’s all they (Stalker Radar) would do,” he said. "I think if this is a one-time purchase, something we can move around from city road to city road to hinder traffic, I think that could be a good start. They (the public) don’t know if it gives out tickets or not, you know?”

    At the beginning of the Public Safety Committee meeting, Salazar Torrez read a text message from former city manager Mark Trujillo, who lives in the Valley Estates neighborhood, that commends the police on increased patrols and enforcement in the area.

    “He certainly wanted to send word that himself, as well as other residents of Valley Estates, appreciate all the efforts of the police chief and his police officers they have seen patrolling Valley Estates and have noticed a decline in speeding as well as traffic,” he said. “They appreciate all the efforts and hope they continue to patrol.”

    Jimenez said that he had also heard from constituents in the area that increased patrols had lowered speeding in the area and that the police presence in the area will continue.

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