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Neighbors Growing Together | Sep 18, 2018

Commission: Eliminate one-way streets

Council hears pitch to alter downtown streets; Councilor Revolinski steps down after 20 years
By Andy Hallman, Ledger news editor | Dec 19, 2017
Photo by: ANDY HALLMAN/Ledger photo Fairfield Mayor Ed Malloy, right, presents Councilor John Revolinski with a key to the city during Monday’s city council meeting. The gift recognized Revolinski’s 20 years of service on the council, which will come to an end at the close of the year. Revolinski chose not to seek re-election to represent the 2nd Ward, and will be replaced by Paul Gandy.

“Everyone has seen someone go the wrong way,” said City Councilor Michael Halley.

Halley was talking about the one-way streets in Fairfield’s downtown.

The streets have been that way for about 50 years, but a committee is now asking the council to allow two-way traffic on those roads, which members believe will make the city easier to navigate and thus more convenient for downtown shoppers.

Terry Baker, assistant director of the Fairfield Convention & Visitors Bureau, is also the chairwoman of the Fairfield Wayfinding Commission, which she represented at Monday night’s city council meeting.

Baker said the idea to return to two-way streets came from the Iowa Architectural Foundation, which studied how to improve wayfinding in Fairfield. The one point the foundation kept returning to was getting rid of the one-way streets.


Reasons for two-way

Baker outlined a number of reasons why the city should convert its one-way streets to two-way:

• Two-way streets are easier to navigate, and allow motorists to see businesses from two directions;

• Two-way streets create a less confusing circulation pattern;

• Two-way streets allow for more direct routes;

• They slow down traffic due to having fewer lanes;

• Other towns that have converted from one-way to two-way streets have seen greater economic vitality in their downtown;

• Two-way streets provide greater visibility and access to businesses that are on the “exit” side of a one-way street (near the end where it meets another street).

Baker said the current layout is particularly inconvenient for businesses on Broadway Avenue and Court Street. For instance, a motorist on East Burlington Avenue can’t turn directly onto North Court Street because it’s a one-way going south, so they have to first go to Main Street, then Broadway, and finally to their desired destination on Court.

“Downtown Fairfield is the heart of our city,” Baker said. “It is one of the few places where we, as residents, can all gather together. But downtown Fairfield was not intended to be a thoroughfare where local drivers zoom by and visitors spend their time figuring out how to get around the one-way grid.”


Next step

The council referred the wayfinding commission’s proposal to the public safety committee. Baker said she expects it to be a long process, something that can’t be solved overnight. She said it’s not as simple as repainting the lines on the street.

Fairfield Area Chamber of Commerce director Darien Sloat said the downtown businesses were largely in support of the commission’s recommendation. Their main concern was that a change to two-way streets not reduce parking.

“We believe this will help our member merchants,” Sloat said. “We definitely need to talk about it to minimize the stress for those worried about change.”

“I think we can do it without losing parking,” Baker said.


John Revolinski

Monday’s meeting was noteworthy because it was the final meeting for councilor John Revolinski. Revolinski has served on the council for 20 years. He announced earlier this year he did not wish to seek a sixth term representing the 2nd Ward. He will be replaced by Paul Gandy, who won election to the council in November.

Mayor Ed Malloy showered effusive praise on Revolinski at the conclusion of the meeting, saying Revolinski had brought an intense passion to many issues, that he was an exemplary council member, a complete delight and professional, and someone “whose mind we respect.” Revolinski wryly replied, “Enough already!” prompting chuckles from the audience.

Councilor Daryn Hamilton thanked Revolinski for bringin him up to speed on city business when Hamilton joined the council.

“I appreciate you very much,” Hamilton said.

Councilor Martha Rasmussen said Revolinski will be sorely missed, and told him how her husband Bob so enjoyed having Revolinski on the council during his tenure as mayor. Halley said he appreciated how Revolinski always defended the “weak and oppressed.”

“Even when he knows we have to, he hates raising rates. I can hear it in his voice when we vote,” Halley said. “Thank you, John, for looking out for the little people.”

Revolinski said the past 20 years have been rewarding, and that all of his fellow councilors have been treasures.

“I have mixed emotions,” he said. “I’m happy to go, but I’ll miss the camaraderie.”

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