Elmwood Park Voice Party wants red light camera down
A red light camera is located at the corner of 76th Avenue and Grand Avenue in Elmwood Park. | Buzz Orr~Sun-Times Media
Updated: September 7, 2012 12:22PM
ELMWOOD PARK — The Elmwood Park Voice Party slate believes there’s no longer a need for a red light camera in the village and is working to get it removed.
They’ve hit the streets getting people to sign a petition asking the village to “immediately remove the RedSpeed camera located at the intersection of Grand Avenue and Conti Parkway.”
The camera sits on the intersection’s northeast corner and motorists going west on Grand Avenue or making a right toward Conti Parkway are at risk of getting caught if making an illegal turn on red.
Philip Marcantelli, running for a trustee seat on the Elmwood Park Village Board with the Elmwood Park Voice Party slate, was out Thursday evening knocking on doors asking residents to sign the petition.
“We feel that it’s much more revenue-based than safety-based,” he said of the camera. “It’s more of a perk for politicians.”
Marcantelli’s reference to perks alludes to past campaign contributions from RedSpeed Illinois to Elmwood Park Mayor Peter Silvestri. RedSpeed provides the cameras and other equipment to capture drivers who run a red light or make a right turn on red without stopping. In Elmwood Park, violators have to pay $100.
“There’s no evidence the intersection has become any safer,” he said. “Most people want the RedSpeed camera gone.”
Art Richter, 65, who lives at 2619 N. 76th Ave., said he wasn’t available to sign the petition, but he would have if he had the chance. He uses a route that avoids the red light camera.
“When they first put it up there, I got nailed three times,” he said.
There was an initial amnesty period he was able to advantage of, but he sees no need for the camera.
Elmwood Park Village Manager Paul Volpe said the camera was put there to correct people’s driving habits and has been doing a good job. In 2007, when the red light camera was first installed, it issued 3,454 violations, bringing in $151,053 in revenue. Violations decreased to 1,482 in 2011, and $51,848 in revenue.
“That’s great and that’s exactly what we want to see,” he said. “If violations were staying steady and going up … we would say this is having no impact.”
Christopher Simon, of 2547 N. 76th Ave., believes the red light camera is all about money. He is unemployed and said paying a $100 fine can affect a tight budget.
“Who benefits and who loses?” he said. “This is used to trap citizens here in the village to pull more (money) out their pockets.”
Volpe said the effect on residents is minimal, with 78 percent of violations going to non-residents. He said the camera is not about money, but keeping the area safe.
“It’s not supposed to create revenue, it’s supposed to modify behavior,” he said.
Marcantelli believes it definitely modifies behavior, keeping drivers out of Conti Circle, where there are numerous businesses. The main access point to Conti Circle is at the corner where the red light camera is located.
“The last thing we want to do is deter people from driving through the circle,” he said.
Volpe says it’s the other way around and people feel safer with the camera. He added that the present administration does not plan to put up any more red light cameras in the village.
“I don’t know why anyone would remove it,” he said. “There’s the Metra station close by with a lot of pedestrian traffic. It’s an area where people will be concerned about people’s (driving) behavior.”
Marcantelli said they have close to 1,000 signatures on their petition. He plans on presenting all the signatures gathered to the Village Board next month.