As your newspaper reported, our church has requested that the Rincon City Council close the portion of East 6th Street between Highway 21 and Richland Avenue that runs through our campus. Our church sanctuary and youth center are located on the block south of this street, and our children’s educational building, playground and chapel are located in the block north of this street.
We are proposing that the road be blocked in the area near the entrance to our children’s educational building. Traffic coming onto East 6th Street would be diverted into church parking lots to the north and south, but the middle of the street would be a “safe zone” for children to cross from one part of the church campus to another.
It has been objected that closing this section of East 6th Street would delay emergency response to the half dozen residences on the next two blocks of the street behind our church campus. However, this is not a serious problem.
An ambulance does not need this section of East 6th Street that we propose to close, in order to reach one of the homes on the next two blocks. The reason is that the ambulance station is located at the corner of Highway 21 and East 5th Street. Thus if an ambulance were called to a home on East 6th Street, it would travel one block up East 5th in front of the entrance to Rincon Elementary School, then turn right on Richland Avenue and go one block, and then turn left on East 6th Street. It would never need to travel the portion of East 6th Street that runs through the campus of First Baptist Church.
A fire truck coming to East 6th Street from the south or north could turn off Highway 21 on East 7th Street or East 5th Street, go one block, then turn on Richland Avenue and go one block, and then turn on East 6th Street. So even a fire truck would not experience more than a few seconds delay in getting to a home on East 6th Street. I should add that our own church office is located in the second block of East 6th Street, and it will be a slight inconvenience to our own members to get to our church office by way of East 7th or East 5th Street and Richland Avenue, rather than directly up East 6th Street, but we are OK with that.
Weigh that inconvenience against the danger to children by leaving this two and a half-block long street open through the campus of First Baptist Church. There are 275 children at the Weekday Ministry child care center of First Baptist Church every weekday, and over 200 children are in Sunday School at the church every Sunday, and children are on the campus for other activities at different times throughout the week. Many of them walk across that street to go from one part of the church campus to another. The street is open to traffic at many times of the day, and there have been numerous times when children have nearly been struck by speeding motorists.
In the 1990s, before we built our new sanctuary, we asked that the city allow us to close the street and build the sanctuary adjacent to the children's building, and our request was denied. Thus we complied with the order of the city, and we built the sanctuary across East 6th Street from our children’s building. As our church has grown, we are now making plans to build a second children’s building, next to the first one on East 6th Street. Thus there will be even more children in the area in the future.
The danger to children by leaving the street open far outweighs the slight inconvenience of closing the street. It is for the safety of the children that we plead with the city council to close this block of East 6th Street to through traffic.
First Baptist Church of Rincon