The Oak Park Village Board agreed Monday to install “RIGHT TURN ONLY” signs forcing traffic exiting the Foley-Rice Cadillac dealership and the alley to the south to turn north on Euclid Avenue toward Madison Street.

Neighbor Kate Baca was “appalled.”

“We’re very upset that Foley-Rice came and dictated to the village how traffic needs to flow around his business,” said Baca, a resident of the 500 block of South Euclid Avenue. “He’s creating an unsafe environment for our street, and signage really doesn’t help; it’s totally against what we’ve been told.”

Euclid residents petitioned to have a cul-de-sac built at the north end of their street, just south of Madison, which the village denied.

The move for a cul-de-sac was sparked after residents on the 500 block of Wesley Avenue, just one block east, were granted their own cul-de-sac as part of a business retention agreement with Foley-Rice, which is being renovated. Euclid residents feared traffic would shift to their block.

The compromise on Euclid was supposed to be a diverter-or curb-to force traffic from Foley-Rice and the alley away from Euclid. But the board overturned recommendations for the diverters in favor of signs.

“Mr. Foley said, ‘I want to live in harmony with the neighborhood,’ but that’s not what he wants,” Paul Zimmerman, a Euclid neighbor, alleged. “What we’re going to end up with is a joke that’s not going to stop traffic from anywhere.”

Foley-Rice owner Terry Rice said he never agreed to install concrete barriers, saying they came up as a suggestion by neighbors in the last village meeting, but he never signed anything agreeing to them.

Rice said a diverter at the end of the alley between Wesley and Euclid would be fine, although he questioned whether it might impede Euclid residents from turning left onto their own block.

He disagreed with building a diverter by the entrance of his service area, though, because it would prohibit employees from driving from the alley to the garage.

“I gave the neighbors my word that I’d keep traffic off the side streets, and I’m not going back on that,” Rice said. “I can’t not be able to use my service entrance. I need to be able to load cars into my shop properly.”

Trustees mentioned keeping a police officer on watch to make sure drivers obey signs.

“That would be a waste of taxpayers’ money,” Zimmerman said. “It really seems like a token gesture that’s going to mean nothing.”

Different traffic options were tested in a traffic study over the past year on the 500 blocks of Wesley, Euclid and Clarence.

The Transportation Commission recommended installing diverters to send traffic northbound from Foley-Rice and the alley between Wesley and Euclid, but village engineers disagreed with the idea because of “negative impacts to dealership operations.”

Budrick also said there is not much room to install diverters in that area, calling the proposal “virtually impossible.”

“We can construct a curb there, but I guarantee that the garbage trucks and all the other vehicles in the area are going to be driving over this to get out, whether they’re trying to make a right turn or not,” Budrick said.

Euclid residents said their biggest concern is Foley-Rice test-driving vehicles it has serviced on the 500 block of Euclid, especially with the high number of children living there.

Beth Niewijk claims to have seen Foley-Rice employees testing car brakes on Euclid. She said cars roll past the stop sign at the end of the block when the breaks weren’t working right, but no one was ever hurt. Baca said she, too, has seen multiple employees from the dealership testing brakes and steering on Euclid.

Rice said allegations his employees drive 70 mph down Euclid are “ridiculous,” and if a car needed to be tested at a higher speed, it would be taken onto Madison. He said he doesn’t monitor what streets his employees use for tests, but “the streets are public, and sometimes my employees have to use them.”

Traffic studies will continue for the next two years after the cul-de-sac is constructed on Wesley and signs are put in place on Euclid.

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