Former Alta mayor Al Clark laments council decision to remove stop sign

Aside from his attempts to close Westview Trailer Park, the public’s fury with former mayor Al Clark centered on a stop sign placed next to his house. 
 
In a public demonstration against the placement, Alta resident JC Eaton said it was the worst example of the indulgences of his administration. 
 
On Wednesday night, the stop sign campaign was relitigated. Clark’s most vocal critics who were elected to council positions last December voted to take down the Lake Street stop sign. 
 
Councilmembers Willie Lang, Les Mann and Pam Henderson didn’t buy Clark’s argument it was a way to reduce speeding in town, which was the impetus behind it and other stop signs city staff put up in 2018.   
 
“I think people rev their engines (on Lake Street) just because they know that’s where Clark lives,” said Lang.
 
Clark and his wife, Diane, claimed it made the street safer because speeding was rampant in the area before it was put up.  
 
“Shame on you, shame,” Clark interjected repeatedly as the vote was announced.
 
Alta Mayor Kevin Walsh told the council he’s received numerous complaints about the stop sign since it was installed in July 2018. Walsh, a lifelong resident, explained stop signs are considered anathema outside of Main Street.
 
So he kept receiving complaints about it, some varied enough to ask whether the vote in 2018 that authorized their installation was legal. City Attorney Gary Armstrongly advised in a meeting with Walsh last week it wasn’t.
 
It was passed by a motion, not a motion for a resolution, Walsh explained.
 
“Any new traffic control in the city needs to be passed by a council resolution, that’s the bottom line here,” Walsh said. “There are some people who feel strongly about it staying and some that feel strongly about it going. Most of us don’t care.”
 
The vote on the motion was done when Clark was mayor and his friends were seated on the council. His neighbor, Wes Bunjes, and Denny Weber voted for it.
 
Lang voted against it.  
 
This time, Les Mann and Pam Henderson were on the council. Henderson remembers her defeat in her race against Clark in 2017; Mann remembers the public spat with Clark over Wes Bunjes’s pontoon being parked on the street. That incident forced Mann’s resignation from the planning and zoning commission.
 
Henderson and Mann said claims of speeding near Clark’s house were imagined, and even if it was there, there were other ways to control speed, like a speed limit sign or a radar screen.
 
“Most people I talk to don’t want the sign,” Henderson said.
 
“People want the stop sign down,” Mann said. “I don’t think they wanted it in the first place.”
 
Mann, Lang and Henderson out-voted Councilmen Tom Lane and Wes Bunjes, who argued it was best to let sleeping dogs lie.
 
“Just leave it alone,” Lane said. “That’s what we ought to do, just move on.”
Instead, the stop sign will be removed.
 
There wasn’t any discussion of the other stop sign that was installed at Fifth and Main Street in the same vote in 2018. Mayor Walsh said Wednesday’s vote will force the removal of that stop sign, too.