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Stop Signs at Jewel - do you stop?

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

McHenry County, Illinois

Stop Signs at Jewel - do you stop?

Gus Philpott
Woodstock Advocate
July 13, 2007


Okay, so what do YOU think? When you are driving through the Jewel-Osco parking lot in Jewel and you see the stop signs, do you stop? When you see little old ladies trying to cross the driveway with their canes or walkers or grocery carts, do you stop?

And when you see the Fire Lane sign on the front wall of Jewel, do you say, “Oh, what the heck! There is no fire; I’ll park right there and run in 'just for a minute'?” Oh, and the Loading Zone? That’s just a parking and waiting zone for those few “special” people who are too lazy to move their cars and wait in the parking lot for their passengers to shop.

There is an interesting tug-of-war going on right now with the City over a Vehicular Control Agreement (VCA), which would allow officers of the Woodstock Police Department to issue tickets to drivers who run the stop signs and who park in violation of signs. Without it all they can do is watch the violators and wish they had the police authority to stop them.

I’ve contacted all three property owners. Jewel-Osco wants a VCA and has told me it has signed the Agreement. However, the City will not enforce traffic laws just in front of Jewel. The City supposedly wants the power to enforce traffic laws on all of the parking lot and not just the portion occupied by the anchor store. All or none. Makes sense; right? NOT!!!

A second property owner has never been approached by the City to consider a VCA. Now that’s a strange circumstance. So I asked the City this week to send him a copy for his review.

A third property owner refuses to sign the VCA because of the broad powers sought by the police department. He told me that the City wants the right to designate where stop signs should be and wants the power to close off access to this property, if it so decides. No property owner in his right mind would consent to such a condition. He's right to refuse to sign.

When I asked the City this week for a copy of the proposed VCA, the reply was “The City does not share your view that a VCA is warranted at the Jewel-Osco facility in Woodstock…”

I responded to the City official that I had not inquired whether the City shared my view or agreed or disagreed with me. What I asked for was a copy of the proposed VCA. And so I asked again.

The police department put in a lot of work 12-18 months ago to try to get a VCA in place. Now I wonder who “The City” is who doesn’t share my view.

If you talk to employees and customers at the Jewel, Hollywood Video, the Hallmark store, and the stores in the little strip between the cleaners and the phone store, you’ll find that THEY want the police to enforce the laws. So, just why would “the City” not want to do so?

It looks like the next step will be to conduct a survey at Jewel and get some petitions signed. And to file a Freedom of Information Act Request for the number of VCAs in force in Woodstock and for some copies. These are public documents, prepared at taxpayer expense and for the safety of taxpayers. There should be no question that they should be available upon request. Since the City has, in effect, refused my request, I’ll go the next step – the formal route.

Stone-walling wastes everyone’s time. The City wastes its time and money by digging its heels and embarrasses itself by not conducting business in the open. Last I heard, it’s still government of the people, by the people, for the people, in the USA. Woodstock is still in the USA, isn’t it?



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