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Lathrop roundabout landscaping makes it dicey for pedestrians
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It’s design was supposed to be enticing – a classy entrance into the neighborhood just beyond Lathrop City Hall.

With fountains. And art. And landscaping.

But a rash of recent complaints from pedestrians that are concerned that the vegetation has grown too high to safely cross the busy street has the council looking at options for repurposing the land in a way that maintains the intended spirit but also takes safety into account.

So the plants have to go.

The Lathrop City Council on Monday voted unanimously to move forward with a proposal that will allow crews to remove all of the upper vegetation at the roundabout and reassess what to do from there once the work was completed.

City staff was requesting permission to move the four existing palm trees to another location in the city and strip everything that was existing on the site – recycling the fountains and keeping the retaining walls and some of the decorative touches but opening a clear line of sight from one side of the traffic calming installation to the other.

Part of the problem with the existing structure, according to City Manager Steve Salvatore, is that the infrastructure that supports it – pumps and wiring for the fountains and the irrigation for the bushes, plants and trees – is outdated and in need of constant repair.  An entire retrofit would be needed because of decay caused by a lack of consistent maintenance. The fountains, he said, aren’t designed to run as often as they do and the existing plants require a lot of water to maintain – something that the city is trying to cut back on.

But the council wasn’t necessarily thrilled with the idea of stripping everything out and starting over from scratch. Ornelas raised his concern about removing the trees and wanted to know if just taking the upper section of vegetation out will give the visual clearance that’s necessary.

The problem with the roundabout, that cuts back on points of contact for vehicles and statistically severely cuts down the accident rate, is that the pedestrians that are walking across at the intersection have to step off of the curb without knowing there’s a car just around the corner that’s traveling at 25 miles per hour or faster. A nearby school adds even more concern to the situation because in the morning and in the afternoon a large number of kids traverse across the street at that location.

No budget was set for the item, and possible upgrades will be brought back to the council for consideration.

To contact reporter Jason Campbell email or call 209.249.3544.