Slowing down on Summer Street

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LEWISTON – A mother’s instinct allowed Jessica Goodney to stop her minivan just short of hitting her 4-year-old neighbor, Shyla.

Goodney said she was driving down the street and Shyla was standing on the curb. “I think she saw her mother across the street,” Goodney said. “She was short enough that I couldn’t see her over my hood. But I just knew it, and I slammed on my brakes.”

Shanti Curan, Shyla’s mother, said the girl had been across the street playing at a friend’s house. Shanti went out to get her daughter for dinner.

“She saw me and just started running,” Shanti said.

It was another close call for the Summer Street neighborhood, but it was personal for Goodney.

“It left me shaking,” she said. “The thing is, I live here and I know what to expect. But we get people just passing through and they don’t know what could happen.”

She and her neighbors are pushing to get some sort of traffic control on the street – “Slow children” signs, speed limit reminders, speed bumps or anything else.

“I don’t care what they do, but they have to do something,” said Loreal Schafer of 82 Summer St. “There are too many kids out here and too much traffic. I don’t care how it gets slowed down, as long as it protects our kids.”

Neighbors said the street fills with pre-teen children beginning in the late afternoon and continuing through the night. They ride bikes, skateboard and roller blades, play ball and run around.

“Just being kids,” Goodney said.

But their block is just over the crest of a small hill, between Holland and Bridge streets, and about half a mile east of Main Street. Cars pick up speed going up the hill, then continue on down Summer Street. The speed limit is 25 mph, but Goodney thinks it should be less than that.

“I’d be happy if they reduced it to five miles per hour, anything to slow people down,” Goodney said.

It’s a common complaint, said police Lt. Mike McGonagle. Neighborhood streets are filled with kids at play.

“Kids need to remember that streets are not playgrounds,” McGonagle said. “And drivers need to remember that it’s summer and kids are out at all hours, and they’re going to be out in the street even if they’re not supposed to. And even if they stay off the street, balls can still bounce out there and drivers need to be careful.”

Both Goodney and Curan said they’ve talked with city officials trying to get warning signs put up. Nothing’s happened, but they’ll keep trying.

“People just need to remember that this is a residential neighborhood, and that means kids,” Goodney said. “And that means they need to slow down.”

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