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Sidewalks a council decision

By Staff | Feb 19, 2012

While it is nice the Blue Earth City Council asked for input from citizens at a recent meeting, the issue is one that needs more council guidance.

The issue? Sidewalks.

Council members asked residents of Galbraith and 12th streets if they wanted sidewalks in front of their homes as part of this summer’s street/water/sewer project.

The answer was a resounding no.

The engineer’s preliminary plans call for sidewalks on both sides of all the affected streets, whether there are currently sidewalks there or not.

The council themselves were not all in favor of installing the sidewalks, particularly where there are none now. However, they felt they could always take the sidewalks out of the plan if it was deemed they were not necessary.

But, asking if the residents want sidewalks is not the way to go. The council needs to decide where sidewalks should be in the city, and where not.

Otherwise, streets will wind up with sidewalks in front of some residences, and not others.

And, people who don’t want the hassle of maintaining or shoveling snow from their sidewalks will start ripping them out.

Sidewalks are a safety issue, giving pedestrians a safe place to walk other than in the middle of a street.

Residents should not be given the right to decide if they will have a sidewalk or not. After all, the residents of Blue Earth’s last couple of street projects were not given that option.

The City Council needs to develop a sidewalk plan and do it soon.

That plan should designate routes around town that need to have sidewalks in place.

Those routes would include walking to the schools, the pool, parks and downtown.

The city currently has a ordinance in place that states that any residence with a sidewalk now needs to keep a sidewalk and not remove it.

That is a good start.

But, after a walk-ability study was done two summers ago, it was obvious that sidewalks, crosswalks and bike lanes need some attention in Blue Earth.

There may not be room for new sidewalks in front of some of the homes on Galbraith and 12th streets. Or, too many trees might have to be cut down to make room for them.

But the council needs to make that decision and not leave it to the public.