This morning the management of the Willy Street Co-op dropped the bomb: The Jenifer Street driveway to the east-side food market will be kept open for unrestricted use.
The decision was not made lightly, Anya Firszt, the co-op's general manager, said in a letter mailed to east-side neighbors: "We certainly listened carefully throughout the process and weighed the options before coming to this point."
Whether or not to allow car access to the co-op from Jenifer Street has been a controversial issue since the market relocated to 1221 Williamson St. in October 1999. The neighborhood was concerned about changing the character of the street with heavy car traffic and preferred restricting access on Jenifer Street to bikers and pedestrians.
But as traffic volume grew on Williamson Street and traffic snarls became commonplace around the co-op's one entrance there, concerns about congestion and safety arose. In 2010, just prior to the reconstruction of Williamson Street, the Jenifer Street driveway was opened on a temporary basis to cars.
Firszt notes in her letter that the driveway remained controversial and that an ad hoc committee could not come to an agreement about its future use. After construction, the co-op hired a consultant who recommended that the driveway remain open.
"He said that unrestricted use of the driveway for inbound and outbound traffic would be the safest option," Firszt wrote. "This recommendation echoed the recommendation of John Leach, the city traffic engineer."
Attempts to reach Scott Thornton, president of the Marquette Neighborhood Association, were not successful.