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Shining a light on nearby nuisances

Geese, parking meters among local peeves

Published: Wednesday, Aug. 6, 2014 11:08 p.m. CDT • Updated: Wednesday, Aug. 6, 2014 11:38 p.m. CDT

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A driver might have sat for minutes on Peace Road at the Bethany Road stoplight, wondering what phantom car on Bethany Road was keeping his light from turning green.

The answer lies underground in a wire sensor, said DeKalb County Engineer Nathan Schwartz. Until about two weeks ago the sensor was broken, giving the stop light the impression a car was waiting to turn from Bethany Road onto Peace Road.

“Now it only turns when there is a car in that turn lane,” Schwartz said.

DeKalb County is full of iconic quirks and annoyances, such as the Canada geese that inspired parody social media accounts and freight trains that frequently cross – diagonally – a main downtown DeKalb intersection. Here's a look at a few, including some that have solutions on the horizon or quick alternatives.

Stop lights on Peace Road

With the sensor in working order, once a car rolls up to the light on Bethany Road, drivers on Peace will have a green light for another 45 seconds if there is a steady stream of traffic, Schwartz said.

A couple projects could change that, though. County highway officials are completing a Peace Road safety study examining the intersections from Pleasant Street to Lindgren Road.

What's more, broken sensors won't be an issue at three intersections on Peace Road after the resurfacing project county crews will complete this fall. County leaders plan to install cameras at Bethany, Barber Green Road and Pleasant that will monitor when a car approaches.

Dogs sullying graves

Farther south in DeKalb, Carmen Siragusa has seen a handful of dogs urinating on graves at the Fairview Park Cemetery in the past year.

It's something DeKalb police last year told her Fairview Park Cemetery officials were responsible for policing, but the handful of occurrences she's seen still bother her. So far, Siragusa said, cemetery leaders haven't curbed the number of people walking their dogs off-leash despite a sign posted at the entrance prohibiting it.

In the times she's visited her father, William Rush, who is buried at the cemetery, she's noticed about three dogs relieving themselves on graves in the past year.

“I thought the opening of the dog parks would help with that,” Siragusa said.

For dog owners looking for a different place to take their dogs, Katz Dog Park in DeKalb has more than an acre for dogs to run off-leash. Owners would, however, still need to clean up their pet's waste and follow several other rules.

Sycamore parking meters

Forget to put money in one of the 316 meters in downtown Sycamore and expect a $1 fine.

But Sycamore visitors can save all their quarters because most of the meters take only dimes, nickels and pennies, buying visitors two hours, one hour and twelve minutes, respectively.

Drivers aren't the only ones who might get perturbed by the meters. Parking enforcement officer Giovanni Serra, who also has to repair the aging money-takers, said between himself and the afternoon parking enforcer, the city issues about 40 tickets a day after checking the city's meters hourly.

"Sometimes people put in a dime and expect us to turn it," Serra said.

Accepting quarters might help, Serra said, because people are less likely to have a smaller denomination coin. Then again, the city has about 60 meters that take quarters for a 12-hour stay and people sometimes don't pay those, Serra said.

To avoid digging out change or getting a ticket, drivers could take advantage of one of the 211 free parking spaces in downtown, many of which are behind the DeKalb County Legislative Center.

Canada geese

Illinois was home to 96,000 Canada geese in this spring, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources estimates. It's quite the comeback considering scientists once thought the giant Canada goose, the most common subspecies in Illinois, was extinct, said Illinois Department of Natural Resources spokesman Chris Young.

Without a special permit, no one could touch or harm those geese because they are protected by federal and state law.

“You can't just take matters into your own hands if you don't like a Canada goose,” Young said.

But don't fret. People aren't wholly powerless against the feathered fowl and the 3 pounds of droppings the U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates an adult goose can produce in one day.

Young suggests leaving a fringe of tall grass around ponds because geese don't usually go into tall grass. Or, with a $3,200 investment, the geese can be driven away by a device known as the Goosinator.

Northern Illinois University purchased one this spring to push the geese away from campus before they could lay eggs. Operations staff deployed the orange, battery-operated device into the lagoons on campus for three weeks.

The parody Facebook page is still active at www.facebook.com/honku2, but sidewalks on campus have been noticeably less covered by goose poop, said Brad Hoey, NIU's director of marketing and communications.

“So far, so good,” Hoey said “We'll see how many geese come back in the fall.”

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