Letter to the editor: Sidewalk report

To the editor:

City staff is currently gathering information to present to the City Commission on the issue of Lawrence sidewalks. Will biases fuel narrow research, significantly impacting the depth and breadth of what is presented for consideration?

Almost a year into this “Hazard Mitigation Program,” and the most dangerous sidewalks, in the oldest parts of town, remain unchanged. Can the city demonstrate integrity and professionalism regarding what to do about the condition of sidewalks, ignored for decades by the city itself?

It would be an egregious error for commissioners to accept a report that did not include:

1. Transparency regarding the actual primary goal of the sidewalk program? (To make up for years of the city neglecting its own infrastructure vs. “safety?”)

2. How far could the money already in the annual budget stretch to repair the worst sidewalks in the city? (Is it enough to cover two blocks? 10?)

3. What do residents funding the city’s budget through their taxes think about sidewalks and how they should be handled in this city?

4. What are the different ways we could prioritize sidewalks for repair? (Fix areas that are most dangerous first? Where is sidewalk use the heaviest? Should we start with sidewalks nearest schools? Or with Mass Street sidewalks?)

5. How could the city take responsibility for sidewalk maintenance, repair and replacement (It could.) (What are the options? What are reasons to do so? What are reasons not to?)

Can the entity that acted so prematurely and aggressively last spring reveal some integrity this year? We’ll see.

Sarah Farthing,



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