Sunday, April 20, 2014

Council nixes sidewalk request

The town won’t be paying to put in a sidewalk on the west side of Keating Avenue from J.W Walker School to First Street West.
The town’s Traffic Safety Committee had asked that the town help pay for a sidewalk, citing students needed to be able to get off the road and take a safe path to get to school.

But council agreed during a budget meeting yesterday that if the school board won’t help pay for the sidewalk, neither will the town.
Coun. Rick Wiedenhoeft said the Operations and Facilities executive committee reviewed the request.
It decided the town only would participate as a partner with the school board—and if homeowners affected by the proposed sidewalk agreed to having a sidewalk built in front of their property.
The town received a letter from the Rainy River District School Board’s finance committee, which stated that while it agreed the sidewalk “would be beneficial to the safety of the students,” the portion of the sidewalk being requested does not abut school board property.
While the town had not yet contacted homeowners regarding their feelings on a sidewalk, Mayor Roy Avis said he personally was contacted by two of the five who said they were not in favour of a sidewalk being built.
Coun. Paul Ryan said he has looked at the grade of the slope of the properties, and if a sidewalk was put in, it likely would cause a drainage problem for the affected residences.
Coun. Doug Kitowski noted the town agreed to help with implementing the “Kiss ’n Ride” program this fall, but doesn’t feel the taxpayers or anyone else now should have to pay for the sidewalk other than the school board.
Coun. Andrew Hallikas agreed, noting the town “bent over backwards” for both school boards to help them with “Kiss ’n Ride.”
He has no doubt there is a student safety concern, but that’s all the more reason one or both school boards should help pay for the sidewalk.
Operations and Facilities manager Doug Brown said the next time the school board wants to expand J.W. Walker, the town can make it conditional that the board pay for a sidewalk as part of the development.
He added that if a new facility is being built in the community, taxpayers shouldn’t have to pay for a sidewalk to access it.
Brown noted that Walmart ended up paying for the sidewalk on the north side of King’s Highway from Daniel Avenue to its property while Coun. Ryan added Riverside paid for the new sidewalk in front of La Verendrye Hospital.
The total cost of the proposed sidewalk is about $65,000.

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