Sunday, August 2, 2015

Notes from Franklin Ave sidewalk meeting

Eastwood Neighbors held an information session about the proposed Franklin Ave sidewalk this past Friday at the request of Councilmember Westerholm and Public Works.  In addition to myself and the council member, five neighbors attended the presentation and question session by Adam Carter, of Civil Engineer, the sidewalk consultant to Public Works.  The presentation covered the proposed sidewalk along the north side of Franklin Ave from 16th St. to Manchester Ave.

Mr. Carter stressed that the designs he was presenting are preliminary and that Public Works will meet with neighbors again before anything is final.  They will also meet with individual property owners regarding temporary easements.  The proposed sidewalk would include a 30" curb and gutter, a 2' green strip, and a 5' sidewalk.  The project would involve some utility relocation and the possible loss of some trees.  In response to a question about why the sidewalk was on the north side rather than the south, Mr. Carter said it was mainly because of the presence of a sanitary sewer on the south side, but also so that it could link with a relatively new sidewalk on the north side of Franklin east of Manchester.

The neighbors said several times that they love the idea of a sidewalk but have some concerns. Those included the effect of the construction on trees, particularly the potential loss of a mature sugar maple at the corner of Setliff and Franklin, possible encroachment of property lines, especially where it could cut into the slope of yards, and how the sidewalks, by narrowing the lanes, could make it more likely for someone to hit a parked car.

Some of the design alterations discussed as possibilities to address the neighbors' concerns included exclusion of the green strip at certain points to decrease the overall width and limit damage to trees, the use of traffic bulbs, possibly in conjunction with exclusion of green strips, to provide for more on street parking, and the use of retaining walls where the project cuts deeply into slopes.  Mr. Carter did not seem to think that traffic bulbs were likely to be used.  One of the neighbors asked if there could be a cost benefit analysis to see if it would be possible to do something with the sewer to allow construction on the south side instead.  Mr. Carter said relocating or otherwise constructing around the sewer was very unlikely, and mentioned that there were also several mature trees on that side that would be effected if a sidewalk was built there instead.

Mr. Carter said that he did not expect the project to encroach beyond the public access line of any of the properties. He explained that the street width varies greatly along the route, allowing lots of leeway to build without encroaching on properties. One of the neighbors asked if the stop sign at 16th and Franklin could be made 4-way to reduce speeds and increase safety.  Councilmember Westerholm said he could ask for a traffic study, but that it seemed reasonable.

Following his presentation, Mr. Carter took comment sheets from the neighbors and said that they would probably receive another update around September.

We will keep you posted.