As they did last week, sidewalks commanded a considerable amount of Defiance City Council’s attention Tuesday night.
The topic was not part of council’s legislative agenda — which included an ordinance concerning downtown alley changes (see related story on page A1) — but received considerable discussion as a followup to last week’s discourse.
At council’s June 4 meeting, At-large Councilman Joe Eureste inquired about the city administration’s intention to deal with sidewalk maintenance, particularly a stretch on South Clinton Street.
On Tuesday, Mayor Mike McCann said his administration couldn’t “stress enough” the importance of participating in an ongoing survey by Maumee Valley Planning Organization on a transportation survey (including sidewalks). He said the input on the survey could help the city receive related grant money.
Too, McCann noted that a state funding program for sidewalks (Safe Routes to Schools) could be an option for helping improve the South Clinton Street sidewalk. The sidewalk there is narrow and close to the street, and was mentioned by Eureste as a safety issue.
With questions raised last week by Ward 3 Councilman Dave Plant about the cty’s commitment to a long-term sidewalk program, McCann noted upcoming plans to build new ones on Cleveland Avenue, Karnes Avenue, Blaine Street and Haig Street. He also mentioned those recently built on College Place and East High Street (as part of complete street reconstructions).
According to McCann, building new sidewalks in front of Defiance’s 6,663 properties (as of 2010) would cost approximately $52 million.
He said the city doesn’t have a comprehensive plan for sidewalks, but indicated that it does for those impacted by trees.
Eureste countered that of those properties, not all would need new sidewalks.
McCann suggested looking at two areas if a sidewalk program were pursued — the aforementioned South Clinton Street stretch and areas along Carpenter Road and down Stadium Drive.
At-large Councilman Jill Krutsch commented that the issue is “really important” for the “connectivity” of the community.
Whatever the city decides to do, Plant conceded that it would be “not inexpensive to do this,” adding that “to me this makes it that much more imperative to have a game plan.” He referenced a 20-year plan he favored during his first tenure on council some time ago, but no action was taken.
City Administrator Jeff Leonard agreed that the “connectivity” issue is a “layer in the community we should all be concerned about. But he said he thinks the administration is “on the right track” and already doing quite a bit,” although more work lies ahead.
As for a possible sidewalk assessment program, Law Director Sean O’Donnell told council that city code allows them over a 10-year period.