Thursday, April 24, 2003

Lebanon council bails on new sidewalks

By Jill Hanning
Enquirer contributor

LEBANON - City Council voted 4-3 to delete the construction of new sidewalks from the Deerfield Road reconstruction project, a decision that pleased residents who have voiced opposition to the sidewalks for weeks.

The reconstruction of two blocks of Deerfield Road between Orchard and Wright avenues was contracted to include the construction of new sidewalks along the east side of the road. But neighbors were concerned the sidewalks would interfere with the historic character of the street as well as the greenspace along the road.

"Sidewalks would damage the root zone of trees that belong to the residents," said Dean Wiethe.

Some Council members had expressed concerns about the safety of the street, where neighbors say children often play and ride bikes.

"I have a difficult time with people walking down the street, from a safety perspective," said CouncilmanJim Hause.

Phase Two of the reconstruction will take about three months to complete and is expected to begin by the end of May, Service Director Scott Brunka said.

The cost of new sidewalks, which was originally included in the contract, was about $3,600. Without their construction, the project will cost about $234,000.

Also Tuesday evening, Council passed a first reading of legislation to advance $600,000 from the electric fund to the telecommunications fund for the purpose of a six-month "ramp up" to install more phone lines for residents currently on a waiting list.

The city's fund currently allows for 135 installations a month, while 1,000 customers are on a waiting list.

Each installation costs about $500, $400 for equipment and $100 for labor, said City Manager Pat Clements. With the advance, the city could increase its installation rate to 300 lines a month, he said.

"We want to get the wait list on service more rapidly, start collecting revenues more quickly and provide good customer service," Clements said.

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