Thursday, October 26, 2000

Sidewalks due after 14-year wait

By By Walt Schaefer
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        MONTGOMERY — Donna Broderick will feel more at ease when her son, Timmy, 7, runs out to play next summer.

        “We've been waiting 14 years for sidewalks,” said Mrs. Broderick. “The cars move too fast out there (on Trailwind Drive). The city has tried more stop signs and other things to slow them down. Nothing has worked.”

        City Council has approved basic plans for a $1 million, eight-year program to install walks along key thoroughfares in primarily residential areas where vehicle and pedestrian traffic have significantly increased, said City Manager Cheryl Hilvert. Residents will not be assessed for the sidewalk construction.

        Unless preliminary planning changes, Trailwind Drive in the Winds subdivision south of Pfeiffer Road and east of Interstate 71 will be among the first streets to see the 5-foot-wide concrete walks installed. Sections of Knollbrook and Southwind drives in the Winds also are included.

        The walks will fill gaps in a sidewalk system started during a 1988 program. “Filling in the gaps will provide safe pedestrian access to schools, parks and neighborhood retail developments,” Mrs. Hilvert said.

        Betsy Buck, who has lived on Trailwind Drive since 1976, said the neighborhood has changed as motorists discovered they can use residential streets to bypass busy Montgomery Road to get to or from the Blue Ash area.

        “It's a popular cut-through. We have been waiting for sidewalks for a long, long time. We like to walk, too; and it's kind of difficult as it is,” Mrs. Buck said.

        Public Works Director Robert Nikula said the 3.75 miles of new sidewalk will be installed in phases. After the Winds, workers will move to Storybook Acres north of Pfeiffer Road and east of I-71, where plans are to connect Pfeiffer to Deerfield Road.

        Mrs. Hilvert said the sidewalk route in Storybook Acres is un- decided.

        Two other phases are planned — Tollgate Lane and Jolain Drive behind the Montgomery Square Shopping Center, and a stretch along East Kemper Road fronting Good Shepherd Catholic Church and grounds.

        As part of council's initiative, the city will begin to fund all sidewalk repair citywide instead of passing repair cost on to property owners, Mrs. Hilvert said.

        Also, City Council has decided to discontinue the sidewalk installation under the Neighborhood Incentive Program. Under that program, the city had agreed to front the costs for sidewalks installation in neighborhoods where a majority of homeowners requested them. The city has been responsible for paying 25 percent of the cost, with the other 75 percent paid by homeowners over a period of up to 20 years.

        Mrs. Hilvert said the city could not afford to embark on the ambitious new program, assume the cost for sidewalk repairs citywide and still continue to pay the costs of neighborhood sidewalks under the incentive program — in which the city may have to wait up to two decades to recoup money it put up for construction.

        The new program is the result of two years of work by council including public hearings and needs assessment and review. It was formally approved Oct. 4 and is subject to funding approval in the 2001 capital improvements budget, the city manager said.


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