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St. Anne’s Catholic Church seeks plaza for portion of Walnut Street in Lodi

Proposal to protect student pedestrians would vacate a block

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Posted: Tuesday, December 11, 2012 12:00 am | Updated: 2:10 pm, Tue Dec 11, 2012.

Students at St. Anne's Catholic School will no longer have to dodge cars while walking between the school and St. Anne's Catholic Church on Walnut Street if a proposal goes through to permanently cut off traffic between Pleasant Avenue and Church Street.

St. Anne's has asked the city to consider vacating a one-block portion of Walnut Street, so they can replace it with a plaza featuring walking paths and landscaping.

City engineer Charlie Swimley described the situation at that corner as unique in the city because students frequently have cross the street between the church and school during the day.

"(St. Anne's has) provided a pretty well thought-out plan, and when you look at the children crossing Walnut back and forth, it makes sense," Swimley said. "The impacts to the local street network are minimal."

The Planning Commission will decide whether to sign off on the plan at its 7 p.m. meeting Wednesday. The Lodi City Council would make the final decision at a meeting tentatively scheduled for January, Swimley said.

The proposed plaza will have a drop-off area for parents on Pleasant Avenue, and on the Church Street side there will be access to the current parking lot to the east of the church.

In between, St. Anne's plans to replace the street with grass, trees, sitting areas and walking paths connecting the school and church.

"It has an aesthetically pleasing look to it," Swimley said.

To vacate a piece of property, the council has to approve it, and then the city will get the piece of land appraised. St. Anne's will have to pay the city for the land, and the church would be the permanent owners, Swimley said.

Another notable example of the city vacating land, Swimley said, is when Cottage Bakery bought Maxwell Street near Kettleman Lane and Stockton Street.

During the review process, consultants KD Anderson & Associates studied the traffic in the area and found that the side streets can handle the additional cars when drivers can no longer go through that intersection.

As of Monday evening, the city has received two letters in support of the project from local business owners, and none against.

The property owners directly across Church Street from the church voiced their support after speaking with their tenants.

Kristina Fluetsch works with her husband, Michael, at Fluetsch & Fluetsch Attorneys at Law, and they own the building.

"We believe that the creation of a park and plaza at that location will beautify this area of Downtown," she wrote in a letter.

Kristina Fluetsch also noted that they have watched drivers ignore the crosswalks or refuse to stop, even when someone is holding a stop sign.

"It is simply a miracle that no student has been struck by a careless driver coming down Walnut Street," she said.

Dina Marcus, a court reporter who owns Marcus Deposition Reporting in the 200 block of W. Oak Street, said she was also in favor of the closure.

"I believe it would enhance the city of Lodi, and help with the safety of students that attend St. Anne's School and the parishioners of St. Anne's Church, as well as providing a community meeting place for the entire Lodi community to enjoy," Marcus said.

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  • Darrell Baumbach posted at 5:54 pm on Tue, Dec 11, 2012.

    Darrell Baumbach Posts: 9403

    [thumbup] I'm looking forward to it's completion. great idea!

  • Simon Birch posted at 2:07 pm on Tue, Dec 11, 2012.

    Simon Birch - Online Manager Posts: 139 Staff

    Ted: If you're interested, the Planning Commission packet is online (http://bit.ly/126bGCq) with a lot more information about the proposal. It's a bit of a hefty download (PDF) and you have to scroll to the bottom of the document to get to the St. Anne's info. I'll try to be more diligent about adding links to these documents with our online stories.

  • Ted Lauchland posted at 1:17 pm on Tue, Dec 11, 2012.

    Ted Lauchland Posts: 229

    I think it is a great idea for St. Annes.

    I was also on the Land Use Committee at the county Farm Bureau for awhile and watched applications come across our desk for approval of schools and churches in placing themselves in the middle of farmland in order to expand their sites. It has led to making it further impossible to farm anywhere near them with no way to deal with the problems it created.

    You have my "Yes" vote.

  • Ted Lauchland posted at 12:47 pm on Tue, Dec 11, 2012.

    Ted Lauchland Posts: 229

    It would be interesting to see the actual proposed plan but I will trust that to others. The security of children is better done on site than subjecting it to public streets.

    I have dealt with it at Lodi High School in the past involving out of town buses and an extra 2000 kids for a band review . When Lodi asked if we could take it to Hutchins Street Square and downtown 100 plus buses had to be accounted for. I had it planned out but parking on a public street would have been a nightmare. It didn't happen for many reasons

    Staggering arrival times would mean alot for traffic flows. I wish all schools would consider that option. Actual street changes in a neighborhood with neighbors would take time to get used to and would prove in time as to whether it was a good idea or not. Ownership would be all St. Annes'and it could provide more parking instead

  • Kevin Paglia posted at 9:06 am on Tue, Dec 11, 2012.

    Kevin Paglia Posts: 1880

    Jackson Scott:

    A couple of points:

    First. St Anne's isn't the only school with drop off and pick up problems. Try driving down Davis when Elkhorn is getting out. Larsen is a nightmare And I avoid Tokay at release time as well. I'm sure other schools are equally as bad.

    If you look at the traffic flow for the area, closing Walnut to through traffic MIGHT make things better. Cars can come down Pleasant Ave (one way) and turn left to Walnut without waiting for cross traffic.

    Second: as for the kids "running across" Walnut st. Have you ever worked as a crossing guard? I was "required " to volenteer to do so a few times and car drivers don't CARE if there are kids in the cross walk. Outside of mt volenteer time I was cycling down Century once and saw three cars in a row blow through the crosswalk with the crossing guard in it holding the kids back, out of the cars path.

    Finally I suspect the Harvest festival would be done on the new park setting.

  • Jackson Scott posted at 7:44 am on Tue, Dec 11, 2012.

    Jackson Scott Posts: 382

    Are you kidding me? The better question here might be, "Why are St Anne's students running across Walnut Street?" When they go to chapel are they not escorted by the teachers and staff through the crosswalk at Church Street?

    This is a horrible idea for two main reasons. 1) Fewer parking spaces, 2) Traffic flow before & after school.

    I suggest the planning commission and city council go to the school and watch the mess that is currently there before and after school as the kids are dropped off and picked up. It is ugly, basically a traffic mess. Then imagine what it will be like if you eliminate Walnut Street.

    Then I wonder what the plans look like? Park benches, walking paths, trees, etc. Where does the school plan on having their street closing Harvest Fair?

    I will be emailing or calling the Planning Commission and the City Council to voice my opposition.



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