Dropping off a child at Harrington Park for a weekend baseball or soccer game can be like running the gauntlet.
SUVs scrape by one another on Robinson Court with just inches to spare, sometimes hopping the curb to give clearance to oncoming traffic.
While there have been no traffic accidents recorded at the site, the Riverside village board on March 21 decided it would no longer tempt fate and instituted a parking ban on both sides of Robinson Court between April 1 and November 1 of each year, the time when the Riverside Recreation department holds organized sporting events at Harrington Park.
The village board voted 4-1 to approve the measure, which was recommended by the village’s Safe Environment Commission.
The lone “no” vote was cast by Trustee Kevin Smith, who complained that the parking ban would simply shift the problem to other village streets. Trustee Thomas Shields was absent from the meeting.
“I don’t know that it’s practical or if it just moves the problem to another area,” Smith said. “What if people on Lawton say, ‘We don’t want parking there either’?”
Village President Harold J. Wiaduck, who did not cast a vote, expressed reluctance at prohibiting parking completely on Robinson Court, saying it would be a burden to residents.
“I’m concerned with eliminating parking for everyone,” Wiaduck said. “This is an inconvenience to residents as much as the people at the park.”
But other trustees disagreed, contending that the traffic situation near the park during athletic events was too dangerous.
“I live near there and, when there are children playing, it can be a real zoo,” said Trustee John Scully. “It’s a nutty area.”
That contention was shared by Trustee Cindy Gustafson, who said it was “unbelievable” that there have been no accidents there.
“There are so many close calls it’s not even funny,” said Gustafson, who noted that people already use Lawton and Gage roads for overflow parking.
The traffic situation on Robinson Court was first addressed last fall by the Safe Environment Commission, which identified four options: making no change at all, prohibiting parking during organized activities, banning parking on the street completely, or erecting temporary barricades at Delaplaines Road and Robinson Court during activities.
At the time, the barricade solution was received favorably, since barricades had been used to block traffic previously, but had been abandoned for unknown reasons years ago.
On March 21, Police Chief Eugene Karczewski said that neither his department nor the Recreation department had the manpower to monitor the placement and removal of barricades and that there was no guarantee the barricades would be placed by others.
In March the Safe Environment Commission sent surveys to some 40 households in the area immediately surrounding Harrington Park asking for resident input. The commission received 12 completed surveys from residents with six respondents wanting parking prohibited during Recreation Department-sponsored events. Just one asked for a total prohibition on parking.
“Out of 40 residents, this solution was asked for by only one,” Smith said in arguing against the ban.
But residents from four of the six homes actually located on Robinson Court attended the meeting, and all agreed that the parking ban was the best solution.