If it gets enough support, the group plans to push City Council to pass a resolution closing the section, says Caitlin Zettl, vice president of the neighborhood association. The effort has the attention of City Councilwoman Kathy Graziano, whose 4th District includes the targeted stretch of Riverside Drive, says Graziano's aide, David Hathcock. Graziano was out of town and unavailable for comment.
If the proposal goes through, it would mark the only regular closing of the scenic route, which snakes along the river from a point west of the Huguenot Bridge to its easternmost point near the Robert E. Lee Bridge.
The area of Riverside Drive that the neighborhood association is targeting is roughly a mile long and is located on the south side of the James River. It extends from Rockfalls Drive to the Pony Pasture.
The petition calls for that section of the road to close to motorized vehicles from dawn to dusk Saturdays and Sundays. Gates set with timers would likely ensure the restriction and allow residents who live on the road access to their driveways. The parking lot at the Pony Pasture would remain open.
The city's parks department closed the same stretch to through traffic for a few months last year for a "slope-stabilization" project. During those months, Zettl says, people remarked how the closing brought out pedestrians in droves. Then, she adds, members of the association began getting flooded with e-mails and calls about how they could make it more permanent.
The neighborhood association is following the process set by an ordinance pertaining to groups that want increased fines for things such as speeding or littering in their neighborhoods. That ordinance calls for the signature of 75 percent of the residents affected by the initiative.
Hatchcock figures the affected area along the targeted stretch of Riverside Drive includes about 235 homes within the greater Southampton area. Up to a half-dozen homes with views of the river have driveways along the stretch.
Graziano and the neighborhood association have been working together on safety and land-use issues relating to Riverside Drive for months, Hathcock says. Residents living nearby have voiced concerns about increased traffic and cruising in excess of the posted 15-mph limit. S
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