Concord Monitor – Henniker forum to focus on Main Street crosswalks

Owner Jennifer Lopez of Superscoops on Western Avenue in Henniker in front of her ice cream shop on Friday, April 19, 2024.

Owner Jennifer Lopez of Superscoops on Western Avenue in Henniker in front of her ice cream shop on Friday, April 19, 2024.
GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

The owner of Superscoops on Henniker’s Main Street says she’s willing to make the ultimate business sacrifice to help the people who come to her window when the weather is nice.

“I am willing to give up two parking spaces in front of my store so that there is a safe crosswalk to the park,” said Jennifer Lopez.

Lopez, who sometimes calls herself J-Lo after the singer of the same name, says she suggested the idea of ​​a crosswalk shortly after purchasing the company in August 2020. There are two crosswalks along this stretch of Main Street, one at the intersection of Crescent Street and another about a hundred yards west of Superscoops, but a survey last June found far more people crossing the street around the ice cream shop than on either zebra crossings.

“Between May and October, Main Street is very busy. The shortest way to the (park) is straight,” Lopez said. “I work at the window, so I can see everything happening. I see children running to the other side, between cars… and parents trying to cross the street as safely as possible.’

Her request was not approved, but it has prompted the city to take a broader look at the stretch of Main Street from the Community School on the west to Crescent Street on the east, including the busy intersection where Bridge/Maple Street crosses Main .

City Manager Diane Kendall said it has been many years since the city took a closer look at its downtown.

“It’s probably been 15 to 20 years since the last revitalization — sidewalks, parking,” she said.

A team from the Central New Hampshire Regional Planning Commission counted traffic and pedestrians and collected other data, but as average vehicle speeds and parking usage in the spring of 2023, when both the elementary school and New England College were open, and in the summer of 2023. 2023 during various events in the city center, such as concerts and farmers markets.

The findings will be the subject of a public forum on Tuesday, April 23 at 6:00 PM at the Community School, hosted by the Select Board and the Economic Development Committee, where suggestions and feedback will be collected.

“They will present some options to improve pedestrian safety and (city officials) will listen to stakeholders’ concerns,” Kendall said. “No decisions will be made at this meeting.”

The team’s findings include the fact that the city center has ample parking spaces at nine different locations. These are never filled, except for a few hours during major events, the report said.

However, most of these parking lots are out of sight of Main Street and underused, the group wrote in their report: “There is evidence that few people walked to Main Street events from outlying parking lots (based on pedestrian and parking lot counts ). occupation).”

The analysis found that “approximately 5% of traffic” was traveling at speeds of 50 km/h or faster, with higher speeds in the early morning. “Speeds of 40 km/h or less are appropriate for a street, given the village context and the presence of pedestrians and other people-oriented activities,” the report said.

The report highlighted the fact that even slightly higher speeds for cars are much more dangerous for pedestrians.