Basalt speeders under watch
Who knows what lead lurks in the feet of drivers in one Basalt neighborhood? A man in the shadows will soon know.
Basalt resident John Swanson will soon be stationed along Riverside Drive with a radar gun as part of a one-man crusade to get speeding motorists to slow down.
Swanson’s proposal to document speeding and take steps to eliminate it were approved Tuesday night by the Basalt Town Council. Swanson got a green light to use his own radar gun to document speeds of motorists traveling on Riverside Drive. The radar will be periodically calibrated by Basalt officers.
Swanson will record dates, times, speeds and license plate numbers. That information will be turned over to the Basalt Police Department, which will mail “friendly” letters notifying the owners of the vehicles about the speeding. The letters will explain that they should ease up for the safety of children, pets and other motorists. And because it’s the law.
No tickets will be issued as part of the program, according to Swanson and town officials. It’s solely an educational effort.
Basalt officials embraced the idea, for the most part, as an example of community involvement. Councilman Chris Lane thanked Swanson for making the effort to try to get drivers slowed down.
Swanson credited Basalt resident and former council member Milt Stewart for the idea.
Councilwoman Jacque Whitsitt initially wasn’t crazy about the idea.
“For some reason, John, I have some gut-level resistance,” Whitsitt said. She wanted to make sure the letters to speeders were sent by Basalt police, not Swanson.
Swanson assured her he didn’t want to circulate his name as the guy using the radar gun. Once Whitsitt found out the police would send the letters – with Swanson providing postage – she withdrew her objections.
Basalt Mayor Rick Stevens questioned whether an education-oriented letter would do any good.
“As much junk mail as you get, this goes right in the round file,” he said.
Stevens favored directing the police to target Riverside Drive in their “Street of the Week” program. In that program, cops saturate a particular neighborhood with patrols, pull over drivers for violations but often send them away with just a warning.
Officers will continue to operate “Street of the Week,” concentrating their efforts around the school, and Swanson will document speeding on Riverside Drive.
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