Archive for Tuesday, March 15, 1994

SIDEWALK FOES HOPE TO THWART PROJECT

March 15, 1994

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Monday's the deadline for stopping a proposed sidewalk benefit district in southeast Lawrence.

Nothing's set in stone about a proposed $274,000 project to build sidewalks in neighborhoods near the new Prairie Park Elementary School.

The project, approved by the Lawrence City Commission and supported by the Prairie Park Neighborhood Assn., is in danger of being quashed by a protest petition.

Residents of the 360 homes in the benefit district have until 5 p.m. Monday to decide whether they'd like to "protest out" of the project. Project opponents need signatures from a majority of landowners in the area, as well as enough signatures from owners to cover a majority of the land.

"When you're opposed to something, you work against it," said Larry Brizendine, 1518 E. 28th Ter., part of one of a half-dozen teams circulating protest petitions in the neighborhood. "If you win, you win. If you lose, you lose. It'll be close."

Brizendine said the group had enough signatures to stop the project but would continue collecting signatures until the deadline. The signatures would need to be verified by the city clerk, using an updated list property owners.

If the petition fails, the sidewalks project would proceed as planned, likely by the opening of school this fall.

"If people don't want sidewalks, that's their right to protest," said Linda Decelles, an ardent supporter of sidewalks as community vice president of the India PTA and secretary of the neighborhood association. "We just think they should be getting the right information."

Here's the scoop, according to George Williams, the city's public works director:

  • Sidewalks would be installed throughout the neighborhood: along the east side of Haskell Avenue, from 23rd Street to 26th Street Terrace; on both sides of 27th Street, from Haskell to Harper Street; and on one side of Ponderosa Drive, Maverick Lane, Bonanza Street, Rawhide Lane, Cimarron Drive, and on the north sides of 25th and 28th terraces.
  • The estimated cost is $274,000, half of which would be paid by owners of land in the benefit district over a five-year period. The charges would be assessed on annual property-tax bills. The remainder of the cost would be picked up by city taxpayers.

Brizendine, who's worked with his wife to collect 16 protest signatures along his street, said the issue wasn't cost. He just doesn't want to lose a fifth of his front yard to sidewalks, which then must be cleared of snow in the winter.

"I'm opposed to it," he said. "If it passes, that's fine too. Personally, I just don't want 'em."

Decelles said the issue focused on the safety of children walking to the new Prairie Park school nearby. Many areas don't have sidewalks, and blind hills could put children in the paths of vehicles.

Besides, she's figured out the per-home costs, with interest: $380 for the entire five-year period, broken down from $96.90 the first year to $80.18 the last.

"Risking the lives of our children isn't worth the savings from that small cost," she said.

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