Resident, student address township on Crawford Road lighting
When Alana D'Ambrosio-Berry was sleeping Halloween night, she was awoken suddenly by screams of terror on Crawford Road.
A resident of Bilbrael Street, a side street off of Crawford, she rushed to her window to see what was happening. After investigating further, D'Ambrosio-Berry saw a group of students surrounding their friend, Ryan Tsatsos, who was killed in a hit and run that night.
D'Ambrosio-Berry told this story to the Union Township Board of Trustees during extended public comment at its regular Wednesday meeting. Since the incident, students and community members have questioned the need for lighting and sidewalks on Crawford, an extremely dark area with no sidewalks.
"Parents send their kids to college not for them to come back in a body bag," D'Ambrosio-Berry said. "Now we have to be reactive and not proactive."
Earlier during the meeting trustees approved preliminary design plans for a lighting project on Deerfield Road, which intersects Crawford. The project has been in talks for a few months, and is still in its beginning stages. The preliminary plans will cost the township $4,200.
"It made logical sense for safety," said Township Manager Brian Smith. "We knew lighting there was going to happen sooner or later."
The citizen-initiated project would provide lights on a pathway on the south side of Deerfield Road, from Mission Street to Crawford, where another pathway connects within the Central Michigan University Smart Zone. Before the project can start, township engineers will need to determine if there is a need for lighting there and assess costs. CMU owns 3,500 out of 4,100 square feet of land in that area, Smith said.
Ian Elliott, Student Government Association's city commission liaison, also spoke during extended public comment. He expressed hope after hearing trustees talk about the lighting project, which he said is much needed for the safety of students. Elliott was asked by SGA and other student groups to address the township.
"If the time comes that you look at the project and see it's not to the extent of safety measures that could be made, you will have student support to talk to CMU," he told the trustees. "Students would be behind you if you needed to ask CMU for funds for the project. This is something we would like to prioritize."
D'Ambrosio-Berry told trustees that the hit and run, which is still an ongoing investigation, is everyone's problem.
"This tragedy will happen again," she said. "It's only a matter of time."
Trustee Bryan Mielke echoed the sentiments of both public commenters. He said though unfortunate, the hit and run brings an opportunity to address pedestrian safety in the township.
"There are a lot of parties involved, but maybe this will give us a chance to all come to the table," he said. "We've had discussions as a board and our agenda tonight looked at lighting. It's unfortunate that tragedy is sometimes the impetus for movement on an issue like this."