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City won't remove downtown bollards

The bollards in downtown McMinnville will stay. The red bells once again escaped the chopping block when the measure was considered Tuesday night and unanimously tabled.
A joint meeting of the Safety Committee and Streets and Sanitation Committee was held to discuss removing the bollards. On the committees are Aldermen Rick Barnes, Billy Wood, Jimmy Bonner and Mike Neal.
Bonner is chairman of the Safety Committee.
“I think the problem I’m having with the bollards is large trucks will come downtown and have no way to get out,” Bonner said. “If they try to turn by the library, they get stuck on a bollard. I’m afraid someone is going to turn their truck over, maybe on top of a car.”
The bollards were placed as a safety barrier to prevent motorists from damaging decorative light poles and sidewalks by encouraging motorists to stay on the road when making turns.
Bonner added, “I understand what the city tried to do with them, but I would rather fix a cracked sidewalk than have a truck turn over and maybe kill somebody.”
McMinnville Public Works director Bill Brock says the bollards also protect pedestrians and should stay.
“We have a lot of people downtown who are in wheelchairs,” said Brock. “The bollards are safety tools to the public and our property. You are supposed to drive on the road. You aren’t supposed to drive on the curb. It’s as simple as that. I think they should stay. I have yet to see any problem the bollards have caused.”
While several large trucks have gotten caught on the bollards, Brock says that is truck driver error.
“When I ask them why they hit the bollard, they say ‘I thought I could make it.’ When I asked why they didn’t stop when they knew they weren’t going to miss the bollard, I’m told ‘I thought I could make it over it,’” said Brock.
Brock says local residents pulling trailers use Main Street as a short cut when they should not.
“You got a local guy who pulls his trailer behind his truck once a month. He gets on one. I’ve had some people get on one and just cuss me out. I would say ‘Why were you on the sidewalk? I drive in the street. Where were you going?’ They were going to Sparta Street and using Main Street as a short cut.”
No bollards are located on Morford Street or Spring Street due to lack of space. Brock says the lack of bollards there has cost the city $2,600 when a decorative light pole was damaged on the corner of Spring and Morford.
Officials spent $5.17 million to renovate Main Street, which made some officials favor the bollards to protect their investment.
“I understand the plight of some truck drivers, but it was a multi-million dollar project and it cost several hundred thousand dollars to put those bollards in,” said Mayor Jimmy Haley. “What’s it going to cost to take them out? What about the damage that’s done to the street?”
Bonner asked for feedback from the committee, to which Barnes said, “I don’t have a problem with the bollards downtown. I think they are pretty.”
Bonner motioned to table the measure and it passed unanimously.
Being tabled means officials will not act on the measure, but can consider it later. This is not the first time they have considered removing the bollards after hearing complaints from motorists impacted by their presence, with each discussion ending without action.

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