Township To Begin $750,000 Sidewalk Program

Will be the start of a multi-year program.

Vornlocker 4-8-141

Township manager Bob Vornlocker said the $750,000 earmarked for new sidewalks in the township is just the beginning.

In a party line vote on Sept. 9, the Township Council directed the start of a program to install sidewalks on streets that do not have them.

The first priority will be streets used by school children who must walk to their schools.

Township manager Bob Vornlocker said that a priority list was created several years ago, and that streets around Franklin Middle School would probably be the first to see new sidewalks.

But it won’t happen overnight, Vornlocker said,

“This will be taken in small bites, street by street by street,” he said. “Maybe one or two streets at a time.”

The council included $750,000 in the 2014 budget for a sidewalk program.

Vornlocker said that money would be just the beginning.

“It was made very clear to the council that that $750,000 was only the start of what will be a very long-term project over many years,” he said.

The motion to get the township started on the project was made by Councilman Carl R.A. Wright (D-Ward 4) during his committee report.

Vornlocker said streets that need sidewalks were identified “in a joint study by the Police Department and the Board of Education several years ago, where children already walk to school. There was a need identified on those streets for safety purposes.”

Mayor Brian Levine ( R) has been opposed to spending for sidewalks in the past, and he renewed that opposition Sept. 9.

Noting that homeowners would be responsible for shoveling and repairing sidewalks in front of their properties, Levine said he “would just want clearance from people before we” install the sidewalks.

Councilman Phil Kramer (D-Ward 3) said that public hearings would be held before any contracts for the sidewalks were let.

“There will be opportunity” to hear homeowners’ views, he said.

“At the point where we identify specific locations, people can speak up,” said Councilman Ted Chase (D-Ward 1). “Between the difference of shoveling a sidewalk and the possibility of having school children hit by an automobile because they’re walking in the street, I’d come down on the side of sidewalks.”

“I’m concerned about public safety, I’m concerned about money and I’m concerned about kids,” Levine said. “I don’t know if I’d go along with it at this point. That doesn’t mean I wouldn’t support it later.”

Levine cast the only “no” vote on Wright’s motion to direct Vornlocker to begin the process of picking the first streets to receive sidewalks.

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