A $10,000 design budget for a sidewalk – to fill in a gap from the northeast corner of Penberton Court and Waldenwood northward – to connect to a path leading the rest of the way to the King Elementary School has received approval. The Ann Arbor city council took the action at its Aug. 8, 2013 meeting.
In its form, the resolution is similar to other sidewalk design budgets the council has been asked to approve in recent months. [For example, the council has approved similar design budgets for a sidewalk on Barton Drive at its July 15, 2013 meeting, a sidewalk on Newport Road at its Jan. 22, 2013 meeting and for a sidewalk on Scio Church Road at its Nov. 19, 2012 meeting.]
However, the sidewalk gap near King Elementary School includes a history of advocacy by nearby resident and former Ann Arbor Public Schools board member Kathy Griswold dating back to 2009.
For students crossing Waldenwood from the west to attend school, the segment of sidewalk would allow them to make the crossing at the intersection, where there is a four-way stop – instead of crossing the street using a mid-block crosswalk. According to the staff memo accompanying the resolution, “The Ann Arbor Public Schools (AAPS) Transportation Safety Committee has agreed the use of a new crosswalk at this stop controlled location would be preferable over the existing mid-block crossing at the school entrance.”
From the fall of 2009 through the spring of 2010, Griswold addressed the council on at least nine occasions on the topic of the King Elementary School crosswalk and the related sidewalk gap. The construction of a sidewalk had been met with opposition by the immediately adjoining property owners. The funding of new sidewalks – as contrasted with repair of existing sidewalks – is typically achieved at least partly through a special assessment on adjoining property owners. Sidewalk repair – but not new construction – can be paid for with the city’s sidewalk repair millage.
In the case of the Waldenwood sidewalk, it’s located to the rear of the residential properties – and the city does not typically special assess properties to finance sidewalks to the rear of a property.
The council’s action on Aug. 8 authorized only the design budget. To impose a special assessment would require additional steps including the preparation of an assessment roll, and scheduling of a public hearing.
This brief was filed from the city council’s chambers on the second floor of city hall, located at 301 E. Huron. A more detailed report will follow: [link]