Simpson College is looking to buy C Street from the city of Indianola in an attempt to unify the campus.
Simpson College President John Byrd said there are three reasons he would like to buy C Street: to create safety for the students, to unify the campus and to beautify the campus.
Student safety is a big concern for Byrd.
“I was at a recent student government meeting and I asked, ‘Who’s had what we refer to as a close call on C Street?’ and about one third of the people raised their hand,” Byrd said.
Because C Street is in the middle of campus, it’s necessary for students to walk across the street to get to class.
“We have hundreds of students an hour, at peak times, crossing the street,” Byrd said. “There’s always the potential for a disaster to happen.”
Buying C Street would unify the two sides of campus and keep students from having to cross the street.
Byrd has hopes that beautifying the campus will help the college stand out. This could possibly include an outdoor classroom, activities quad and a clock tower.
This is becoming a citywide issue as the Nov. 8 city council election approaches and citizens are voicing their concerns.
“There are some people that are very concerned about their own personal traffic patterns north and south,” said John Sirianni, director of athletics and ward two representative for the city council.
C Street is one of the few streets that extend from highway 92 to Orchard Avenue.
“C Street is the lifeline [of Indianola] without going in a maze,” said Charlotte Guilford, an Indianola resident who lives in ward two.
In the event of C Street being closed, the city is considering making Howard Street and Buxton Street two-ways, Sirianni said.
Parking is also a concern for many. Not only will C Street’s parking be eliminated, but parking on Howard and Buxton would not be possible.
Students are worried about the possibility of having fewer parking spaces.
“I use it [C Street] for parking,” freshman John Linnan said.
Linnan is concerned that he will have to park farther away or risk getting a parking ticket.
“We anticipate additional parking north of the Kent Student Center,” Sirianni said.
On days college activities are taking place, parking may become more of a concern.
“It would make it inconvenient for people wanting to go to various places on campus and I think on football days it would cause additional congestion,” Indianola resident Kathy Marlow said.
Simpson feels that parking will not be an issue.
“We don’t have a parking problem, we have a walking problem,” Sirianni said.
The Kent Campus Center will bring additional activities that will cause more foot traffic across C Street.
The safety of Irving Elementary students is also on the public’s mind.
“My son goes to Irving and so I’m going to be concerned with the people that are concerned for him,” Indianola resident Abby Hodges said.
Some citizens of Indianola don’t believe this is enough reason to close part of C Street.
“I do not want C Street closed for the safety of the students and the beautification of the college,” Guilford said.
Guilford has started a petition at Crouse Café to inform others about Simpson’s proposal to close C Street.
“It’s not because we’re old and don’t want to change,” Guilford said. “There comes a time when Simpson has to be said no to.”
Guilford believes there must be public acknowledgment about the issue.
“I believe in what I’m doing and I’m giving it my best,” Guilford said. “There are alternatives here that can be done.”
One alternative Guilford suggested is that the street can be left open and beautification can take place on the sides of the street.
Guilford presented the petition at a city council meeting on Oct. 17.
All citizens, for and opposed to the closing of C Street, are encouraged to tell city council members their opinions.
“I am kind of holding off my decision-making until I have heard from as many people as I can get,” said Randy Gathers, ward one city council member.
The discussion of C Street is open to public involvement. However, the final decision will be made by the city council.
The discussion among city council members will begin in November or December, but the voting date has not yet been determined.