Putting Out the Furor Regarding Revamped Fireman’s Circle
By Robin Jovanovich
The axiom that no one likes change has certainly been the case with the Fireman’s Memorial Circle. While redesign of the roundabout was proposed a decade ago, as part of the Safe Routes to School initiative, and the project has been on the City’s agenda since 2015, its reconstruction only began last fall. After close to five months of traffic tie-ups and more than a few bumps — lack of signage, blown tires, tricky curves, several accidents, new abutments that extend out too far — the community has lobbied more criticisms than congratulations.
At the April 10 City Council meeting, a week before the Circle was set for milling and paving prior to being fully open and operational, Mayor Josh Cohn tried to assuage the doubters.
“The redesign of the Circle, while not this Council’s project, had our full support,” he stated. “It was designed to improve pedestrian safety, increase sightlines for drivers, and slow traffic down at the merger of three major streets.” The Mayor added: “We all drive too fast.”
The community may not have realized that the circle needed to be “dug up by its roots, with new drainage pitched out.” Cohn said durability was an important goal. “This is a long-term investment, built to a 75-year view.
Aesthetics were also part of the final design. “The City took pains to make the Circle complement the downtown Purchase Street redesign.” Rather than using materials “that would have made the Circle look like the entrance to the Holland Tunnel”, Belgian blocks were used. Landscaping is set to begin. The stretch of road opposite Citibank will be repaved down to City Hall.
“I hope the project is deemed worthwhile,” said Cohn reflectively. “The Circle honors generations of firemen. A lot of City money went into it.” (The estimated final cost is $500,000.)
The Council commended the Mayor for his summation.