Springfield will encourage no through traffic by hospital

Springfield city council members agreed Tuesday night to install “no through traffic” signs on W. First Street by Effingham Hospital.

The hospital had asked for some help reducing traffic on the street because many of its employees have to walk across it to reach parking lots. Many drivers take the road as a shortcut from Ga. 21 to Ga. 119.

“We’re after cutting through traffic through there,” said Michael Murphy, strategic business liaison for the hospital. “There have been a couple of close calls with pedestrians.”

Closing one end of the street or installing speed bumps won’t work because ambulances must be able to use the street going both directions, he said.

City Manager Brett Bennett asked council members if they wanted to consider giving the street to the hospital. The hospital could then control traffic on its own private road.

Council members seemed to like that idea, but that would take some time and effort to straighten out such things as utility easements and access to the water tower and Veteran’s Park.

Murphy said the Hospital Authority also liked the idea of owning the road.

Bennett said the signs would be a first step and the council can see if that helps before deciding whether it needs to pass an ordinance that would restrict through traffic, setting fines and possibly a lower speed limit.

The third option would be to deed the road to the hospital, he said.

Having police try to enforce no through traffic would be difficult because an officer essentially would have to follow drivers to see that they are using it as a shortcut and not stopping at the hospital or EMS or the Veteran’s Park.

Owning the road would give the hospital more options for constructing office buildings at W. First Street and Ga. 119, Murphy said.

“The way we’re growing, the sky’s the limit,” he said. “Thank goodness we’re bucking the trend of a lot of rural hospitals in the state.”

Mars Theatre

Also on Tuesday night, council members heard an update on the Mars Theatre. Tommy Deadwyler, director of cultural affairs, said the venue that opened almost a year ago has attracted its first event sponsors.

Enviroworx Operations Management of Richmond Hill is sponsoring bluegrass legend Ralph Stanley on May 15.

And businesses are being signed to sponsor Americana, bluegrass and country music singer Jim Lauderdale in late June.

Busloads of people from all over the state who are attending the Georgia Municipal Association’s annual meeting in Savannah will be brought to the Lauderdale concert at the Mars, an “opportunity to show off the theater to a lot of people around the state,” Deadwyler said.

The event is part of an effort by the GMA and Georgia Council for the Arts to study Springfield and four other Georgia cities – Athens, Thomasville, Blue Ridge and Duluth – that are using the arts for revitalization.

Deadwyler also said first-run movies have done well at the theater. The latest SpongeBob movie, which was shown in early February, sold out at 6 p.m. on Friday and Saturday nights. “We had to turn people away” to the later showing, he said.

“The word is getting out,” he said. “The longer you stick with it, the better it gets.”

He said the theater is expecting big crowds for the Cinderella movie this weekend and next weekend.

Other action

In other action Tuesday night, council members said they are still looking for someone to serve as an alternate on the Planning and Zoning Board and someone to serve as a member of the Ethics Commission.

City residents who would like to serve are asked to fill out a simple form and return it to City Hall.

The council agreed to surplus some old fire, police and water-sewer vehicles and some “miscellaneous” items from the Police Department.

The miscellaneous list included “several boxes of teddy bears” that were meant for police officers to give to traumatized children, but that are so old that they are deteriorating.

The council took off the surplus list three cases of empty Kona-Kola bottles, which are soft drink bottles that say they were made in Springfield. Bennett said they were mistakenly put on the surplus list.

Sourced SavannahNow

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