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Not all are happy with Greenfield's plan to build a network of sidewalks

July 22, 2014

Greenfield — Greenfield plans to build a network of sidewalks especially around schools and not everybody's happy about it.

Several residents of Honey Creek Drive told the Greenfield Common Council last weekthat they didn't want sidewalks because they said would destroy the street's rural atmosphere and would destroy too many trees. One they estimate at more than 100 years old.

Sidewalks also are proposed for portions of Layton and Edgerton avenues, but the council only heard negative comments from Honey Creek residents.

Normally, a small street like theirs wouldn't even be on the list for sidewalks, Richard Sokol, neighborhood services manager, said after the meeting. But Elm Dale Elementary School is on their block at 5300 S. Honey Creek Drive. The city's plan is to build the network of sidewalks radiating from schools and from other hubs of activity, he said.

"Step by step we want to make a logical network to major activity centers throughout the city," Sokol said. "Elementary schools are good places to start," he said, but activity centers also would be things like playgrounds and grocery stores.

Elm Dale also is triggering the plan for the Grange Avenue sidewalks from Layton Avenue to Cold Spring Road. The Greenfield Middle School is triggering the 35th Street sidewalk plan from Layton Avenue to Cold Spring Road, Sokol said.

For many years, Greenfield ordinances have required sidewalks on major thoroughfares but the ordinance has not been enforced, Sokol said.

"This year money is in the budget for the first time, and it could be for as many as three years, for targeted sidewalk network," Sokol said.

But sidewalks could be tougher for those living along neighborhood streets like Honey Creek.

"We moved into the neighborhood because it doesn't have sidewalks and we don't want sidewalks," said Jean Kuchler.

Joyline Hornburg also said her family looked for a place that had no sidewalks, no streetlights and had a rural feel and they found it on Honey Creek.

She and her neighbors all raised their children there and their children rode buses to school, Hornburg said.

The sidewalks would not only mar that rural feel, but would take away the beauty of the neighborhood because so many trees would be lost, including one that is more than 100 years old, Hornburg said.

The neighborhood voted sidewalks down in 1994, Kuchler said.

"It's kind of a shame it's being brought up again," she said.

But Sokol said after the meeting that he would meet with neighbors to try to save the more important trees.

The walk might be routed around them, he said.

"We don't want to cut down trees," Sokol said.

At the same time, it's heart-wrenching to see elderly people or those in wheelchairs carrying groceries alongside traffic, Sokol said.

"It's not something safe or reasonable," he said, and he sees that happening every day.

The residents' comments will be accumulated and a recommendation will be made to the Board of Public Works, probably at 6:30 p.m. Aug. 26, Sokol said.

NEXT STEP

WHAT: tentative consideration of sidewalks by Board of Public Works

WHEN: 6:30 p.m. Aug. 26

WHERE: Greenfield City Hall, 7325 W. Forest Home Ave.

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