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Chamber hosts community birthday party as final sesquicentennial event

The Derby Chamber of Commerce held the final sesquicentennial celebration event of the year on Thursday night. The occasion was part of the annual Taste of Derby benefit auction that is a fundraiser for the Chamber.

This year’s event added an additional element that came in the form of a giant community birthday party called the 150th Birthday Bash.

The festivities began with multiple Derby area restaurants and caterers offering sample morsels of their best dishes, desserts and more. A silent and live auction was held with dozens of unique items for bidders to bid on. A large 36- by 68-inch black metal Panther, backlit in green, sold for $660 and was the highest bid at this year’s auction.

Derby Chamber President and CEO Mark Staats said that this year’s donations from the event will be over $26,000. The event drew 340 people and Staats said all 16 VIP tables were sold out.

“This is by far the best year we have had in the last six years,” he said.

At the close of the silent auction confetti cannons were fired in celebration of Derby’s 150th birthday. The live auction and recognition of Derby’s sesquicentennial followed the silent auction.

Staats said the night’s event was a culmination of Derby’s sesquicentennial celebration.

“It is evident by this year’s celebration that our community is full of pride, involvement, and commitment,” Staats said.

After Staats’ comments and prior to the silent auction hundreds of balloons fell from the ceiling as participants raised their glasses in a toast to celebrate the past and look to the future of Derby.

New traffic signal set near DHS

With the aim of increasing safety and easing congestion, the Derby City Council moved forward on a new traffic signal on Rock Road by Derby High School.

The site will be at Pinion Road, about halfway between James Street and Madison Avenue. The existing signal just north of the area would be removed.

A motion was approved at the Oct. 22 meeting for an agreement with USD 260 for traffic signalization improvements and to authorize a design contract with TranSystems for $32,000.

The estimated cost for design and installation of the signal is $250,000, of which 80 percent, or $200,000, will be paid by the city and 20 percent, or $50,000, by the district.

The approval didn’t come without some discussion. At least one member, John McIntosh, had his doubts about the plan and was the only member to vote against it.

“You’re going to back [traffic] down to Madison,” he said. “It’s going to be a disaster. I just don’t see how this is going to work.”

McIntosh also expressed frustration that the situation has been going on for so long.

“They had 20 years to figure it out,” he said.

Access, circulation are issues

Dan Squires, the city’s director of planning and engineering, has placed a lot of confidence in the designer, TranSystems, and its expertise in figuring out a workable solution.

At issue is the access and circulation of DHS, which creates several traffic challenges.

Squires said that due to the lack of efficient access from Rock, the majority of vehicles, or about 90 percent, access the site from either James or Madison.

But traffic backs up in both spots.

“The large volume of vehicles turning from Rock onto James to access the school from the north exceeds the available turn lane length and available signal time,” he said. “Vehicles accessing the school from the south use the Madison entrance, which requires them to turn left across traffic.”

That results in excessive lines and delays.

In addition, some students use cut-through routes to avoid the delay.

Also, both the Madison and James exits are congested during school dismissal.

Another issue is that visitors to the school who enter from Rock are forced to circle the campus to access the main entrance and athletic facilities.

City, district each have assignments

There won’t be a dedicated left turn lane on Rock, but the signal timing will be designed to provide a protected left turn green arrow into the high school for southbound traffic on Rock, Squires said.

A crosswalk will be created on the north side of the intersection crossing Rock. The new design calls for three lanes on the high school property at the intersection, with two dedicated to outbound traffic and one for inbound.

There also will be an inbound lane just south of the intersection feeding northbound traffic onto school property.

It’s not often that the city and school district work together on a traffic-related project, as the streets are usually handled by the city, but this one is a bit different. Therefore, officials have assigned tasks as follows:

•The city will oversee design and installation of the traffic signal.

•The city will be responsible for 80 percent of the cost of design and construction of signal improvements. The district will pay 20 percent of the design and construction costs.

•The district will construct a new Rock entrance and perimeter loop improvements.