Columbia city planning and development officials fielded questions and concerns Wednesday night about the department’s sidewalk improvement plan.
Eight people showed up to Parkade Elementary School for the city’s second public hearing on the draft of its Sidewalk Master Plan that calls for the construction of new pedways along major streets and routes to school.
“The plan has been based on staff recommendations to this point,” said Tim Teddy, director of City Planning and Development. “We’re now entering a phase seeking public comment.”
The city has identified 40 sidewalk construction projects of varying sizes. Columbia Public Schools, which helped with the plan, identified eight projects. Columbia’s master plan was last updated in 1997. The city used a ratings matrix to establish project priorities.
The presence of schools and parks, traffic volume and proximity to bus routes were considered. Garth Avenue, which runs by Parkade, was identified by the city and Columbia Public Schools as a priority, although not a top one, as one side of the street already has a sidewalk.
Linda Karns, who has lived on Garth since 1987, thought the street could use the improvement.
“I have mixed feelings about them taking eight feet of my yard, but the traffic on Garth is awful,” she said. With two schools and continued residential construction to the north, the tremendous amount of traffic is a concern, she said.
Julie Youmans, 61 and an active cyclist, lives on Rock Quarry Road and questioned her remote street’s inclusion in the plan.
“I’d love a sidewalk, but not at the expense of the scenic roadway,” she said.
Karns, who felt the urbanized north and south ends of the road could use sidewalks, wondered about the effect of development.
“I’d hate to see a pretty road disappear,” she said. “There aren’t too many of them left.”
Like Garth, Rock Quarry Road is not a top priority, noted Mitch Skove, a senior planner in the Planning and Development Department.
The city will hold one more public hearing on the plan from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Wednesday at Mill Creek Elementary School.
Teddy added that the city has arranged to have the plan displayed at the next two PedNet meetings.
PedNet, the Federal Highway Administration’s Nonmotorized Pilot Program, could potentially be one source of funding for several top priority projects.
Teddy closed the meeting by inviting further comment.
“We’ll make this a running engagement with the public,” he said.
Youmans said she attended the meeting because she’s interested in how the city develops.
“We have this wonderful city that builds great trails and sidewalks,” she said. “We need to pay attention to the details of how we add on.”