Gypsy Hill Park Neighbors Petition for Less Traffic


STAUNTON, Va. (WHSV)-- A petition is currently circulating about neighbors wanting the traffic to stop in Gypsy Hill, and they plan to take up this issue with city council. One organizer who started the petition said they wants to wait until controversy surrounding the idea of change dies down.

There's plenty of traffic on weeknights, but according to city code, all drivers here should have business they're attending to in the park.

"The cars do tend to freak me out and my mom and other people. Because there's no telling where the kids are going to run or where the dogs are going to run," said Natalie Fitzgerald, a runner.

Natalie Fitzgerald and Kable Rizzo run in the park regularly, but they have to stay alert. An issue that Lindsay Curren, who started the petition, said is a regular occurrence.

"A lot of moms come to me wherever I am and say 'oh my gosh thank you so much for bringing that up I never come to Gypsy Hill Park because it's unsafe for me and my children,'" said Curren.

The petition asks the city to close a main loop of the park to cars until noon on weekdays. Even with enough signatures, organizers are waiting until the fall to bring the petition to city council.

Another concern among those who signed the petition, is safety for kids.

"I don't think we need a child to be struck and possibly killed for us to say, yeah let's look at this safety issue," said Curren.

Jimmy Guinn, a Staunton neighbor, he said he worries more about unleashed dogs, "There's plenty of space for everybody here, if we need a dog park, lets make a dog park, and separate the dogs from the children, but leave the cars."

This is a sentiment others echo.

"I don't want to get into more restrictions on people, the park's here for everybody, people just need to be responsible," said Wayne Jones, a Staunton neighbor.

As the petition prepares to go to city council, they're hopeful Staunton will look at traffic changes and consider alternatives.

Some have suggested two other parks in the area.

"Not a very palatable answer for most walkers and runners. This is a city park, in the middle of the city, that's made for walkers," said Curren.

"Sometimes the cars aren't paying attention, so they don't see us," said Fitzgerald.

"There's no clear sense of what people should do, so kind of chaos exists and it creates an atmosphere for real danger," said Curren.

But Curren said that limits people with strollers or disabilities.

Rizzo is more concerned about dog bites happening to kids if dogs aren't leashed, "It does, it does cause some conflict sometimes especially with a dog, and lots of people have dogs here that they like to run with. so really, I can see both sides."

Guinn asks the city to close a main loop of the park to cars until noon on weekdays.

Organizers say they're waiting until the fall as they plan a lot of people coming to her to help with planning how they would present to city council. Many park-goers want a thorough study conducted by the park system after they bring issue to city council in the fall.


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