Citizens say no to sidewalks
By Jessie Burchette
CHINA GROVE ó Sidewalk opponents aired their concerns Tuesday night, making clear they don’t want sidewalks on their streets.
Mayor Don Bringle said Wednesday the town needs to take another look at the sidewalk program.
Bringle said he will ask the town manager to contact state officials and see if the project can be changed to repair existing sidewalks or put sidewalks in areas that are heavily used.
Town officials said Tuesday night they can’t make changes from the plan, which was developed three years ago.
Bringle said based on the growing concerns of town residents, it’s worth trying to make changes, even if it delays the project.
Opponents of sidewalks filled the Town Hall Tuesday evening with nine speakers taking most of an hour to explain their opposition. Some brought pictures, others brought compelling stories of potential problems.
The town is set to receive more than $600,000 later this year from federal funds aimed at increasing walking, reducing driving and improving air quality.
Sharon Dunaway said a sidewalk will take the handicapped ramp at her mother’s house at Kirk and Franklin streets, as well as the parking space. She stressed there is no other place to put the ramp on the property.
B.T. Biles, 626 East Centerview Drive, presented the town with petitions containing 160 signatures.
Biles said sidewalks need to be added to new developments and along Main Street, not on unlit residential streets where they will be too close to homes and destroy landscaping, fences and walls. “Lots are already bare minimum … sidewalks will not help anything.”
Biles and other speakers suggested sidewalks are needed on North Main near Porky’s and along Church Street from Main Street toward Hardee’s.
Rene Simmons, 818 S. Main St., called on the board to reconsider placement of the sidewalks.
Living at the corner of South Main Street and Kirk Street, she said a sidewalk on Kirk Street will come within 10 feet of her front porch. “Sidewalks are coming too close,” Simmons said, adding that she spent three hours polling her neighbors and none favored new sidewalks.
Some of the sidewalk opponents had aldermen and the audience laughing.
Luci Russell, 804 S. Bostian St., described her street as a series of mountains and valleys. She said a sidewalk on Bostian would be great for training mountain climbers for the Olympics.
Vivian Gallman told the story of a hole in the yard of her mother’s home at 108 Kirk Street.
She said a hole appeared next to the curb several years ago. Gallman said she called town offices and was repeatedly told it was not town property and it was her problem. She carried five-gallon buckets of dirt to fill the hole.
It reappeared a few days later. She carried more dirt.
Her mother died, she rented the house and the hole reappeared.
Convinced it was related to city water lines or street drainage, she again called town officials and was told it was her yard and her problem.
She filled the hole again.
“Now you’re saying it’s the town property,” said Gallman. “I’m not giving you my land or my hole.”
Some speakers questioned exactly where the sidewalks will go and what the town will pay them for their property.
Town Manager Bill Pless said the town has a right of way and surveyors are currently working to establish the right of ways.
In some cases, the town will own the necessary property. Once the right of ways are established, the town will hold a meeting with property owners to work out details.
Contact Jessie Burchette at 704-797-4254.