More than a year after the Stephenville City Council voted to sell portions of certain city streets to Tarleton State University, crews are preparing those streets for permanent closure to motorists.
According to James Lehr, Tarleton communications specialist, the prep work includes the installation of bases for bollards at the intersections of Lillian Street and Vanderbilt Street and the intersection of Vanderbilt and Cain Street.
"Bollards are barriers that will be installed eventually to keep vehicular traffic out, but will allow pedestrians and scooters to pass through when completed," Lehr said in a press release earlier this week. "Once in place, the bollards will be entirely removable to allow emergency or maintenance vehicles through, as needed."
Today, Lillian Street will be closed from the university's P-11 parking lot to the intersection of Lillian Street and Vanderbilt Street. Then on Friday, Lillian will be closed from the intersection of Lillian and Vanderbilt to the crosswalk between the science building and student center, according to Lehr.
Lehr also said the streets will be fully closed to motorists later this year, as the current closures on campus are the first step in "re-configuring campus traffic patterns for increased safety and a pedestrian-friendly atmosphere." Additional street work and installations will occur in phases later in the year at other locations on campus.
At a December 2009 council meeting, a divided council issued a split vote on the proposition, with all but three council members - Alan Nix, Russ McDanel and Scott Evans - voting in favor of the proposition and Alan Nash abstaining from the vote. Nash cited moral concerns relating to his status as an adjunct professor with the university
In 2009, the issue of selling parts of the city streets to the university came before a packed council chambers, consisting largely of university officials, Tarleton's top supporters, alumni and several professors and students.
Several individuals stood in favor of the university's request to purchase the streets, citing the exponential growth at Tarleton and concern for student safety, including University President Dr. F. Dominic Dottavio, who said the proposition fit in with the university's long-term strategy.
Dottavio also said the plan was not devised to simply close traffic to motorists and community members who use the streets to navigate across the city, but to address parking and safety issues.
The total approximate distance of the streets vacated through the agreement with Tarleton measures more than 259,000 square feet. At the 2009 approval, the ticket price for the streets was listed as $.80 per square foot, less $.20 per sq. ft. for poor street conditions and retaining easements.
The city vacated Lillian Street from West Washington Street to West Shirley Street; West Vanderbilt from Cain Avenue to Rome Avenue; West Tarleton Street from North Lillian to St. Peter Avenue and Rome from West Vanderbilt to West Frey streets.