Sidewalk installation schedule suspended

Shawn Hardy

Residents of four developments in the Borough of Greencastle will not have to install curbs and sidewalks as scheduled this year.

Greencastle Borough Council voted Monday to put implementation of the sidewalk installation map on hold pending further review. Information meetings for residents planned on Thursday nights through Feb. 7 concerning curbs and sidewalks have been canceled.

A total of 166 letters went out last year to property owners in the Baumgardner, Moss Spring, Campion and Town and Country developments, as well as a few other scattered locations around town, saying they would have to install curbs and sidewalks in 2019.

About 30 people attended the December council meeting, mainly residents of the Baumgardner Drive area, who questioned the logic and costs of installing curbs and sidewalks in their neighborhood. Asked for a show of hands Monday about who was in attendance concerning sidewalks, most of the more than 20 people in the room raised their hands.

The decision not to continue curb and sidewalk installation as planned drew mixed opinions from council and the audience.

The public facilities committee met twice to consider residents' comments as well as the origins of the program going back to 2011.

Requiring curbs and sidewalks was "a vision based on connectivity and walkability, but it was never turned into a written strategy or tactical plan," said Joel Amsley, chair of the public facilities committee.

"It's clear there are many challenges and we need more research and more time," said Eden Ratliff, borough manager, adding there needs to be more debate on what connectivity really means.

"I admit we erred and never should have expanded it that far, in my opinion," said Councilman Duane Kinzer.

Baumgardner Drive resident Tim Fetterhoff said there needs to be intense study to see if sidewalks will even work in his neighborhood, which has storm water issues.

"I think it means a lot to the community that what we say does make a difference," said Kendra Pheil of Baumgardner Drive.

Councilman Frank Webster cast the lone dissenting vote on the motion to suspend the sidewalk installation, saying he still supports the plan.

Councilman Matt Smith added, "it is still my vision."

Dick Myers, who lives on the west side Williamson Avenue and was required to put in curbs and sidewalks "in the 2016 debacle," said he had to spend a lot of money and "moved a lot of dirt to keep the previous council happy. What are you going to do to even this out? You have to treat everyone the same."

Kevin Barnes, who lives on Carolle Street, said he was playing devil's advocate and there are two sides to every story. He has a curb and sidewalk he has to pay to maintain.

"You're forcing me to do something others don't have to," Barnes said.

Almir Hodzic of Edward Drive said he feels bad for people who have already had to put in curbs and sidewalks, but council did the right thing in not continuing a bad policy.

He said council listening to the residents is democracy in action.

Several council members remarked that they like seeing more people attend their meetings.

"We work better with input from the public," Kinzer said.

"I'd like to see the room full all the time," said Larry Faight.