Council listens to citizens; requires sidewalk on Duke

Council listens to citizens; requires sidewalk on Duke by David Lias Charles K. Stewart, owner of property at 120 West Duke, worries that the construction of a sidewalk in that location will make the area more dangerous for pedestrians.

People who reside in that part of town, however, told the Vermillion City Council Monday that a sidewalk is needed to help make the street a safer area for their children.

They convinced the council to deem the sidewalk construction necessary.

C.J. Stewart told the council that the sidewalk stops at the Jones� Food Center property and at another portion of Duke Street.

There is also a stretch of property along the street filled with construction materials, she said.

Stewart said that when kids get off of the school bus each day, some of them walk out into the street, and some of them walk into the construction area.

What�s disturbing, she said, is that recently the construction material has been piled clear to the curb.

�In the past, property owners had kept an area clear of construction material for children to walk,� Stewart said. �But now the construction-type material is all the way out to the curb. The kids are always out in the street. Early in the morning when the sun is hitting your windshield, that is a hazard for the children, and for the drivers.�

The city had deemed the sidewalk construction necessary. Charles Stewart, owner of the property at 120 West Duke, wasn�t present at Monday�s City Council meeting.

In a letter to Mayor Bill Radigan and members of the council, however, Stewart listed these reasons for not being in favor of constructing a sidewalk at that location:

? 120 West Duke is commercial property that is being used as a commercial construction site. Heavy equipment is continuously entering and exiting this area. �Adding a sidewalk would only increase the traffic area of children and neighbors,� he wrote.

? �Installing a sidewalk will not eliminate the danger of this area,� he stated in the letter. �Heavy construction vehicles are entering and exiting this location at various times throughout the day.�

? Duke Street was built wider than the average streets in Vermillion. �There are no sidewalks on east or west ends of Duke Street going to the Jones� Food Center bus stop,� he wrote. �Also, on the east end of Duke Street there are no sidewalks leading to the middle school. I see no purpose to construct a sidewalk on one lot of an entire street. I suggest adding an additional bus stop to this residential area.�

Tim McClelland told the council that many Vermillion motorists regard the streets in that area as a �local drag strip. For the safety of my daughter and the rest of the kids in that neighborhood, I think a sidewalk is something that�s essential.�

He added that children face added risks during the winter because of the lack of a sidewalk.

�In the winter months, when the streets get plowed and my driveway gets plowed shut, that�s a pretty good sized drift,� McClelland said. �You can�t expect kids to always stay off the cleared street and walk through drifts that are three to four feet high. It�s a hazard.�

Kathy Rasmussen has lived in the area for approximately 10 years. She told the council that she�s watched the situation in her neighborhood grow from bad to worse because of the lack of a sidewalk.

�Now there is debris in the way, the kids can�t go on there, and one thing you can�t see is that, in the wintertime, there's now way the kids can cross in the crossing area. They have to go out in the street, and I do see cars go past real fast in the morning sometimes when they are headed off to the bus stop. It really scares me. I think it�s a bad situation.�

Alderman Richard Burbach said he had difficulty forcing a citizen to put a sidewalk in. �But I understand the safety of the children. The dollars involved in the terms of our children � there�s just no way you can put a value on that,� he said.

He asked the citizens if they felt the children would stay off the street if a better effort were made to keep the property along Duke Street clear of construction materials and snow.

Brian McBride, who lives at 800 Radcliffe Circle, noted that there are other hazards that children often must face.

�When it rains, it floods all across Duke Street. You can keep the debris out of there, but what are you going to do about the water?� he asked. �When the water is up along the curb, they have to walk halfway out onto Duke Street before they even get around the water, let alone that little stretch of sidewalk that is missing there.�

Approximately 30 children in the neighborhood walk to a school bus stop in the area.

Stewart must construct the sidewalk before Aug. 1, 2000.

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