BROOKVILLE — A trial change in a borough alley has caused a local couple to share their concerns with Brookville Borough council members last week.
Mr. and Mrs. John “Jack” Huber reside at 254 Madison Avenue and access their parking area off of Diamond Alley.
Council, at the request of the Brookville Volunteer Fire Company, had made Diamond Alley going uphill from Madison Avenue to Hunts Alley one way for a trial period of 90 days. The request had been made because of close calls by firefighters turning up Diamond Alley and having close calls with vehicles coming down the alley. The firefighters turn up the alley to get to their only parking, which is diagonal off of Diamond Alley going up toward the fire hall.
Huber said having his parking area off of Diamond Alley forces him to travel through the intersection of Hunts Alley and Diamond Alley four times a day. Hunts Alley runs parallel to Main Street and is situated between Main Street and Madison Avenue.
Huber said that there is a blind corner at the intersection of the two alleyways, adding that visibility from Diamond Alley looking west on Hunts Alley is only about five feet. He noted that there is some traffic on Hunts Alley as well as parked cars. During the day he estimated 20-25 vehicles during the day and 10-15 at night.
“Hunts Alley is used by tractor trailers and other delivery trucks for Main Street stores. This often determines which direction you can travel on this alley. If there are trucks on both east and west sides of Hunts (Alley), drivers are forced to continue on Diamond (Alley) to Main Street. At this intersection pedestrians are not visible to the driver,” Huber said, reading from a sheet of typed points he wanted to bring to council’s attention.
Besides the problem with exiting Diamond Alley onto Main Street, Huber noted that during the winter the alley is an uphill grade and, being made of brick, can become very icy. “Sometimes you can go down, but not up,” he said, adding that “This is an alley. Snow plowing, anti-skid and salt are secondary to streets like Madison Avenue.”
Huber said he had lived on Madison Avenue at his current address since 1989 and has not witnessed any accidents in the area of the Madison Avenue and Diamond Alley intersection related to the firefighters. “Most residents know to avoid the area or be extemely cautious when the fire siren goes off,” he said.
“Since the (one-way) signage was placed (in December), I was in a near miss accident at the blind intersection of Diamond (Alley) and Hunts Alley. I was on the one-way stretch of Diamond, turning left on Hunts Alley and could not see the car traveling on Hunts Alley from west to east. We both stopped in the nick of time to avoid the collision. The other driver was giving me choice words and was sure that I was in the wrong. There are no signs at this intersection to indicate who has the right of way. The reality is that neither driver can see the other at this corner of the intersection,” Huber said.
He then challenged council members to “take a drive up the one-way section of Diamond Alley from Madison Avenue, and turn left on Hunts Alley heading west. Do this on a weekday between 8:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. at your own risk. How safe do you feel making the turn?”
Huber is not upset with the fire company making the request for safety reasons but asked council to try to figure out a way to make it safer.
Part of the issue is that the Wilson Printing Company building, which now will house North Fork Brewing, is situated right on the edge of the corner at the intersection of the two alleyways making it difficult for drivers to see traffic coming up Diamond Alley or west on Hunts Alley.
“I think it’s a scary thing and that’s one reason why I bring it up. And like I said, I had a near miss and we were head to head. But the truth is you can’t see, you just can’t see. So if I’m going to be forced to drive through that intersection every day, I want to be able to see where I’m going,” Huber said.
Councilwoman Karen Allgeier asked borough Police Chief Vince Markle if stop signs or a mirror like the one situated on Jenks Street near the school would help in this situation.
Deputy Fire Chief Ryan Pearsall noted that the firefighters have to go up Diamond Alley to park, they cannot go down. “It’s the only parking we have besides behind the fire hall, which is very little” space.
It was mentioned that whistle isn’t blown for every fire. The siren only goes off when there’s something on or near Main Street, solicitor Jim Dennison commented.
Pearsall said the siren was shut off at a certain at night until morning and for certain calls it does not blow. “And we did have it shut off there for awhile because it was tripping there by accident for a tornado warning,” Pearsall said.
He added that firefighters have had issues coming up the alley with other motorists coming down, as the alley is basically one lane. “That’s the only real issue we have with it is getting into our parking places.”
Changing the firefighters parking spaces so that they angled down the alley rather than up would be worst according to both Pearsall and Huber.
“I certainly don’t want to stop the fire department from doing their job, that’s certainly not my issue. My issue is that you’re forced into that blind intersection. Even though you pull up there, you stop, you can’t see anything. So what do you do. You start inching out and hope for the best, that’s all you can do,” Huber said.
The stop sign idea was ruled out because of limited space. Another idea that was floated was to have a red strobe light at the intersection that would go off to stop traffic when the sirens sounded and once the sirens stopped, most of the firefighters would already have arrived and normal traffic flow could resume.
The matter was turned over to the council’s street committee to come up with a solution that would work for everyone.