NORTH ROYATON – Results are in for Ward 3 Councilman Dan Langshaw’s sidewalk survey and survey says? Of those who replied without sidewalks, most are not willing to foot the bill.
Both Langshaw and Ward 4 Councilman Paul Marnecheck launched surveys a few weeks back in an effort to open the lines of communication and better gauge residents’ thoughts on this topic.
Of the 119 Ward 4 residents who responded to Marnecheck’s survey launched in October, 59 percent indicated they would not be willing to pay for sidewalks, 16 percent said they would and 25 percent checked ‘other.’ Marnecheck also asked why they would or would not be willing. The rationale most gave is that sidewalks are not a necessity, so they do not want to pay for the additional expense.
Langshaw’s survey, launched back in December, mirrored his colleague’s.
Out of the 68 residents who responded to Langshaw’s online poll, also through Survey Monkey, 39 homeowners indicated they have sidewalks and 27 do not. Of the 27, 19 said they would not be willing to pay for them and seven indicated they would. When asked if they would be willing to pay for them if they could make small payments over time, AKA an assessment, the willingness jumped a bit from seven to 11.
The topic of sidewalks has been heavily paced for close to six years now. Some councilmen have even described it as walking in circles. Langshaw said he has been eager to see the debate come to a close by taking the first steps to sidewalks, but like many of his colleagues on council, the hesitation comes in knowing the residents, more than likely, would be the ones shouldering costs.
Discussions did lead to the year-long independent study conducted by the Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency to first determine objectively where sidewalks make the most sense. This study did produce several recommendations, primarily near the town center and parks to increase connectivity. Two areas have been pinpointed by the study in Langshaw's ward – State Road from Castle to Wallings Road and a portion of York Road between Wallings Road and York Alpha. He recently walked these sites to see them firsthand.
Though council has not charted a detailed path to take in terms of fulfilling study recommendations, they have reached a consensus on a first step and that is the western side of State Road between city hall and state Route 82.
Langshaw has pored over his survey results and the topic the past few weeks and said he is now satisfied, when looking at the overall picture, that residents will see major advances without the cost.
For instance, the Cleveland Metroparks all-purpose trail’s Phase 1 from Brecksville Road to Broadview Road will be completed this year. And Phase 2, from Broadview to Ridge Road, will step off next year completing a gap suggested by the sidewalk study.
Also, the planned widening of state Route 82 to three lanes from West 130th Street to York Road in 2018 and 2019 will come complete with sidewalks on both sides of the roadway, also a study recommendation.
And, the city is applying for grant funding for sidewalks along State Road from city hall north to where they pick up just south of Route 82 and also from city hall to Akins Road.
“These are huge achievements and a great start to the new year in what I have wanted to see. With that in mind and the information from my survey, it really has changed how I see this and what I believe is best, from a policy standpoint. It's clear that all efforts to pursue grant funding for any kind of sidewalk projects being added, whether it be citywide or even here in Ward 3, should be pursued first and at length. I owe it to my residents to find ways to save money for them, while still trying to pursue projects that will have a positive benefit as well,” Langshaw said.
He also inquired about sidewalk waivers at last month’s building and building codes committee meeting to ensure there weren’t an excessive number being granted, thereby hampering sidewalk installations. Community Development Director Tom Jordan assured there have only been a handful granted, and they are only temporary.
Both Langshaw and Marnecheck reached out to residents with surveys after Council President Larry Antoskiewicz, also trying to avoid fruitless debate, stressed sidewalks will not be seriously debated until councilmen first speak to residents involved in a specific area of interest and have their support.
He said the two councilman’s survey results reiterate the way residents want the city to approach sidewalks.
“Although people want us to continue to do some connectivity within the city, they also want us to proceed slowly with caution and use any outside means available. To try and find a way other than assessing them,” Antoskiewicz said.
He said the sidewalk study and debate has raised awareness so that anytime a project is considered, sidewalks are in the forefront of everyone’s minds.
“Anytime we’re doing a project, we are well aware of the connectivity factor, the master plan and try to utilize that information to try to connect the city in ways that make sense,” Antoskiewicz said.
Langshaw agrees he doesn’t want to rush into anything, nor would his residents.
“I appreciate my residents’ feedback on this issue and ask for their patience, so that the right decisions can be made,” he said. “And of course, whether it be the issue of sidewalks or anything, I want to work collaboratively with my residents at every step possible.”