CLINTON — The idea to close the railroad crossing at 25th Avenue North died during a City Services Committee meeting this week. It's a decision that relieves Lyons area officials who feared the closure would negatively impact future development.
The Canadian Pacific had requested the city close the crossing to vehicle traffic using barricades as part of a company safety initiative to close at-grade crossings.
City Engineer Jason Craft posed the idea to city leaders, members of the Lyons Business and Professional Association (LBPA) and Sawmill Museum officials. He was met with stiff opposition.
Sheralyn Bartles, president of the LBPA, expects the area to grow through the development of the property from Main Avenue to 25th Avenue North.
"We're looking to hopefully have some future development alongside the Sawmill Museum and that access from 25th Avenue North was important," Bartels said. "We didn't want to restrict the flow of traffic. We felt that having dual access to that was critical."
Sawmill Museum Executive Director Matt Parbs would like to see another draw to the Lyons area such as a hotel or other development. The Sawmill Museum owns the property from 23rd Avenue North to Main Avenue and portions of the property from Main Avenue to 25th Avenue North.
"The Lyons Business and Professional Association has a plan for the area and we have a plan, as well. There's lots of excitement for potential in the area and we didn't want to hinder that," Parbs said.
Lyons also is working on a streetscape as part of a green infrastructure project the city is pursuing.
The green infrastructure includes permeable brick streets, parking spaces and crosswalks, green alleys and bio-retention cells. The latter requires digging up 3 to 4 feet of earth, putting in a sand filtration layers and planting plants that will help treat stormwater before it is conveyed into a storm sewer system and then into the river.
The project will go hand in hand with the 25th Avenue North pump station project and later the sewer separation in the same area.
"I'm not trying to stymie development I just thought of it as a sort of philosophical safety thing," Craft said. "If you can close railroad crossings you always want to at least consider it, but having met with them it's not really up for discussion and it's really not going to be, I think, worth it. It would be different if we had maybe some death there or some major accidents, but we haven't seen that."
Craft plans to meet with CP officials to discuss other crossings that could be enhanced or closed.