The City Council agreed to put Wheel Estate's 15 mph speed limit into ordinance, solidifying police authority to ticket speeders.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Speeders take notice: Wheel Estates Mobile Home Park will be cracking down on violators.
The park has hired police to make patrols to ensure residents and visitors are sticking to the 15 mph limit.
The limit is on signs in the park and is in the park's rules but the Wheel Estates Tenants Association, the owner of the park, said putting it in the city's ordinances will give the limit more teeth.
The City Council on Tuesday referred the park's request to the city solicitor with the expectation of having an ordinance to vote on Sept. 10.
Councilor Wayne Wilkinson abstained because of his past tenure on the Mobile Home Rent Control Board. However, he said he was aware of the speeding issues and that anything that helped was a good idea.
The Public Safety Committee had recommended the ordinance change, specific to Wheel Estates, after its meeting on Monday.
"There have been complaints of people speeding," association President Sandra Overlock told the committee at Monday's meeting. "It's just constant all day long.
"They just speed by and you tell them to slow down and they use a few choice words."
The park has contracted with city police for blocks of patrol time and Police Director Michael Cozzaglio said the police presence has increased in general.
Cozzaglio said that by state law, residential areas are set at 30 mph unless otherwise posted, such as at Wheel Estates. But while police can ticket within the private park, since it has open public access, the concern was that a violator could appeal the ticket because it was not in ordinance.
"I think this is a viable thing for them to do," he said. "We have increased patrols up there to help them with this but we want to make sure we do this properly.
"The concern is I think the city ordinance language will solidity the 15."
Overlock said there was little the park could do to enforce the rules itself. Tickets and fines would have to be approved by the Department of Housing and Community Development and the attorney general's office, and there was no recourse for collection outside of court, particularly against people who don't live in the park.
She was unsure what steps former owner Morgan Management had taken, but "since we owned the park, we have sent letters to no avail."
Public Safety Committee member Kate Merrigan asked if the association had looked into "traffic calming" elements such as speed bumps, signage and brightly colored crosswalks.
Overlock said Morgan had installed speed bumps but they were ineffective, were often pulled out and damaged the roads. Cozzaglio noted that a lot of traffic calming materials are useless in the cold weather and easily destroyed by plows. The director and committee thought bringing the radar speed sign to the park would help motorists and observers get a better idea of the actual speed of vehicles passing through.
Chairman Keith Bona asked if setting a special speed limit would set a precedent, noting that other neighborhoods, including his own on North Street, had asked for lower speed limits but been rejected.
Since the entire park would be 15 mph, Cozzaglio said it would avoid the difficulties inherent in different neighborhoods or streets having different speed limits.
"It would almost create a speed trap environment," he said. "The consistency is there for the whole mobile home park."
The tenants association, which bought the park last year, voted at its monthly meeting to request the ordinance. Overlock said about 25-28 shareholders in the 189-unit park attended. Several others in attendance from the park said they had frequently heard complaints about speeding and the danger to the park's elderly and children.
Cozzaglio said speeding tickets are $50, plus another $50 toward the head injury fund, and then $10 per mile over the posted speed. The violation can stay on a motorist's insurance for six years.