Need for sidewalks prioritized in Greencastle

PAT FRIDGEN
The Public Safety Committee presented its sidewalk recommendations to borough council Sept. 7. The committee color-coded streets on the need for sidewalks. Red = sidewalks are already present or necessary. Yellow = sidewalks will be necessary as development occurs. Blue = sidewalks are not needed for the safety of pedestrians. Green = sidewalks are not needed due to low foot-and vehicular traffic.

The Public Safety Committee has spoken. After being assigned the task in April, chairman Craig Myers, Paul Schemel, Mark Singer and Kenneth Womack analyzed the streets of Greencastle and came back Sept. 7 with a recommended policy on the presence of sidewalks in the borough. They reported to borough council their findings after meeting approximately 10 times for up to three hours each, and walking each quadrant of town.

Council president Charles Eckstine prefaced the presentation by stating, "This project has been 'kick the can down the road' for many years. Even now, we won't please everyone."

The difficulty with the current ordinance, he said, was the wording that said the borough 'may' rather than 'shall' require the installation or repair of sidewalks when a street was improved.

The committee took the parameters in a different direction.

"We want people to come here and like being in Greencastle," said Myers. "I believe this gives a firm base to make Greencastle a walkable community."

The quartet based its recommendations on six criteria. The first was the safety of pedestrians. "I can't put a dollar figure on people's heads," continued Myers.

The other factors were the amount of vehicular traffic, connectivity and access to other parts of town,  feasibility, whether the street was a connector, such as Linden, or collector, like Baltimore, and safety versus the cost of installation. Every street was placed in a color-coded category.

Red

The red streets already have or need sidewalks, Myers said. They were: Baltimore from Antrim Way to the eastern city limits, Carlisle the entire length, but only on the west side north of Chambers Lane, Washington as far north as Madison, Allison from Leitersburg to Walter, Ridge from Leitersburg to Baltimore, Linden from Orchard to Madison, Spring Grove, Orchard from Franklin to Madison, Leitersburg from Washington to Osborne, Addison, Franklin from the underpass to Orchard, Madison from the underpass to Spring Grove, Walter from Williamson to Carlisle and then on the south side to Allison, and all of Williamson.

Yellow

The yellow streets will need sidewalks in the future, as pending adjacent residential developments or infrastructure are completed. They were: Antrim Way from Carlisle to Walter, Leitersburg from Carlisle to Washington, Baltimore from the city limit to Antrim Way, Franklin from Antrim Way to the underpass, Catharine, Town, Wayburn and Kay.

Blue

The blue streets did not need sidewalks to assure pedestrian safety, said the committee. They were: Parkwood, Homestead, Chadwick, Carowinds, Walter from borough limits to Williamson, Celestial, Sunburst, Starlight, Jeffrey, Edward, Baumgardner from Williamson to Jeffrey, Disert, Carl, Jefferson from Franklin to Mifflin, Washington from Madison to Grant, Eastern, Maple from Washington to Allison, Oak from Washington to Allison, Allison from the borough line to Leitersburg, Rowe from Allison to Orchard, Orchard from Jopa to Franklin, Antrim Way from the west side of Williamsport Pike to Nova, Carolle, Nova, Ronald from Catharine to Nova, Moss Spring, Fieldview and Brookview.

Green

The green streets did not need sidewalks now because of low traffic, either pedestrians or motorized. They were: Hearthstone, Baumgardner Court, Baumgardner from Jeffrey to the east end, Meadowview,Walter on the north side from Carlisle to Washington, Washington from Walter to the city limit, Carlisle on the east side from Chambers to Walter, Chambers, Tyrone, Grant from Linden to the east end, Ridge from Madison to Tyrone, Madison from Spring Grove to the east end, Linden from Grant to Tyrone, Jopa, Apple, Osborne, Century, Lohman, Oak from Allison to Lohman, Spruce from Washington to Ridge and from the underpass to Elm, Jefferson from Franklin to Dahlgren, Elm from Wilhelm to Baltimore, Dahlgren, Wilhelm, Windsor, Rowe, Teaberry, Blue Bird, James and Ronald from Nova to the north end.

Other recommendations

Myers added that if a subdivision plan required sidewalks, the borough would enforce that. No existing sidewalks could be removed, either. The committee had found many sidewalks out of compliance with the current code, so the council should schedule inspection and maintenance programs for them and any new walkways.

He also suggested a Board of Appeals, which would have the authority to grant exceptions. "It would be a relief valve for the council. They'll do the legwork."

The committee did not come to a consensus on all the color-coding, but reached compromises, said Myers. They also did not develop a timeline to require the installation of sidewalks. Finally, they did not figure out other triggers that could require new sidewalks, such as a change of ownership or improvements to a property.

Reactions

Mayor Robert Eberly's main concern was that the plan was fair, and he thought much of it was not. Specifically, he questioned the southwest corner of town, Antrim Way and Leitersburg Street.

Schemel responded that Antrim Way was due widening, stormwater and curb work by PennDOT. He had found the street "unsettling" because many people walked along the highway, but "the time has not yet come." Leitersburg also needed to be widened on the one-block strip.

The streets of Catharine, Town, Wayburn and Kay were adjacent to Antrim Township.

"They were the biggest challenge," Schemel explained. "There is a proposed development nearby that would connect. If it is approved, it will increase vehicular traffic."

Citizen Dave Nichols said three years ago Antrim had required developments adjoining the borough to put in sidewalks, and didn't know if that was still the case. He supported the policy.

Eberly was also disappointed the committee did not offer recommendations on a timeline or triggers. "The council has to make decisions on what the committee couldn't."

Members were directed to put their thoughts in writing and submit them to Womack. The recommended plan will be posted on the borough website and the policy discussed in October.