If you’ve driven through Frederick’s Villa Estates neighborhood lately, the yellow signs are hard to miss.
They contain a variety of messages but have one common theme: slow down.
Gayle Petersen, a Lee Place resident who has helped organize the signage, said she noticed the problem when she moved back to Frederick about 18 months ago. But she knows from talking to neighbors that it has been a problem for much longer.
The streets in the neighborhood are about a half-mile long and mostly straight, which lets drivers get up to speed quickly, said Vicki Sipe, who also lives in the neighborhood.
“You get yourself a nice long head of steam, is what seems to be happening,” she said.
She believes many of the drivers are people cutting through the neighborhood, going from Rosemont Avenue to a nearby shopping center on Seventh Street, or vice versa.
“We’re between places for them. They just have to get through us,” Sipe said.
The problem also gets worse when U.S. 15 gets backed up, and drivers cut through the neighborhood to get to Fort Detrick, Frederick Health Hospital or elsewhere, said Harrison Fisher, who lives in the area.
His street is pretty wide, he said, but not wide enough for two lanes.
Residents have had mirrors knocked off of their cars, and Fisher hesitates to take his two young children out of the car on the street in front of their house.
“It’s borderline kind of scary,” he said.
The neighborhood used to have more older residents, but it has transitioned lately into more families with young kids, Fisher said.
Petersen said they’ve met informally with Mayor Michael O’Connor and had a good meeting with Frederick Police Department Chief Jason Lando and Zack Kershner, the city’s director of public works, to see what steps can be taken to help solve the problem.
They’ve also met with several city aldermen and have plans to meet with the others.
“Citizens have to take responsibility. And when they engage, things happen,” Petersen said.
Sipe said they would like to see speed limits lowered from the current 25 mph and some traffic-calming devices installed, but they’ve asked the city to come up with a list of options that could be done.
They’d like to use the neighborhood as a pilot program for what can be done in older neighborhoods around the city, she said.
She said a bigger police presence can make a difference, but officers can’t be there all the time.
“We need some short-term relief,” Sipe said.
Petersen said they realize the problem is bigger than just putting up a few stop signs or making other changes. But the residents of the neighborhood aren’t going anywhere.
“We are going to stick with this to see things implemented,” she said.