The City Council made the first step toward improving what one PedNet Coalition member described as "a black hole" in the city during Monday night’s meeting: a 14,000-foot strip of land running along the north side of Business Loop 70 between Creasy Springs Road and Garth Avenue.
After several residents came forward to request that the proposed 5-foot sidewalk be expanded to 6 feet, the council decided to vote on the motion at a later date.
Council members noted that the proposed sidewalk would run in front of the Rusk Rehabilitation Center, making wheelchair and pedestrian accessibility an important issue.
Kathleen Weinschenk spoke on behalf of the Disabilities Commission and urged the council to consider the safety of those traveling in wheelchairs, especially across intersections.
Other residents mentioned the importance of a wider sidewalk to cyclists and pedestrians.
"As a cyclist, it’s very hard to move around that area and it can be quite frightening," said PedNet member Amahia Mallea.
Greg Ahrens also spoke to that issue.
"It would be useful for all people to have this sidewalk," Ahrens said. "It would make Cosmo Park and businesses more accessible."
Adding the extra foot of sidewalk would increase the price of the $295,000 project by $16,000 to $20,000.
"That seems like a reasonable price to me," councilman Brian Ash said of the increase.
Construction of the sidewalk, which would be funded by federal service-enhancement funds, local sales tax and taxes on the abutting properties, would start in the spring of 2005.
Also on Monday night, the council:
- Officially endorsed the Option III plan for the Boone County Fair Grounds, which has also been endorsed by the County Commission, co-owners of the property.
- Officially recognized the Smithton Ridge Neighborhood Association.
- Authorized staff to seek bids on the reconstruction of Garth Avenue from Bear Creek to Blueridge Road. The project would cost an estimated $831,100, according to a report to the council from the Public Works Department. It will be financed by tax bills on adjacent property owners, $417,500 worth of county road tax rebates, $337,100 from the city’s transportation sales tax and $76,500 from the city’s quarter-cent capital improvements sales tax.