Hudson Council debates whether sidewalks are needed at River Oaks

by Laura Freeman | Reporter Published:

Hudson -- The city and an ad hoc committee have been working on a connectivity plan to prioritize sidewalks and trails to connect neighborhoods, schools and the downtown.

However, some Council members questioned whether sidewalks should be required in new construction such as River Oaks.

The city provided Council a revised version of the connectivity plan Dec. 10, listing 52 trails and sidewalk projects in order of importance. Council will vote in the future on whether to approve the concept plan.

The map shows lines on paper where the city would like connections but doesn't show the topography of the area, so priorities could change.

"The lines show where we want connections but once the engineer is out there, he may find a better way 'to crack that nut,'" said Council member David Basil.

Council member Dennis Hanink wanted the legislation to include how the priority was determined, that is was based on a process similar to evaluating roads and not from social pressure.

"It's based on factual information," Hanink said.

The projects are rated and ranked by a score with estimated costs based on linear foot. Darrow Road from Brandywine Drive to Valley View Road was ranked number 1. A section of 1,000 feet is eligible for federal funds, which could help pay $120,000 of the $190,693 estimated project.

The second ranked project was the Turnpike Trail 2 from state Route 91 to Hudson Aurora Road for an estimated cost of $520,993, with $120,000 from the park fund.

The third ranked connector was along state Route 91 north of Valleyview Road to Herrick Park Drive. It is eligible for federal funds, which could pay $313,058 of the $762,316 estimated project. The federally-funded projects would have to wait to be constructed in 2016, allowing other projects to be completed before them.

Interim City Manager Scott Schroyer said Council could approve the plan in concept, and then the city could evaluate the top 10 or 15 projects, determine the costs based on topography and engineering estimates and complete the design work with construction in the future.

Basil said funding resources may become available and drive the priority of certain sections.

Council member Alex Kelemen said the ad hoc connectivity committee recognized the document was not static and would change as new homes were built in the city or other funding became available for sidewalks.

One source is Safe Routes Hudson, which encourages student to walk or ride bikes to school. Safe Routes will present a list of projects when it applies for grant money but won't know what projects, if any, will be funded, Kelemen said.

But if Safe Routes receives money for sidewalks, that would impact the city's list, he said.

Safe Routes to School applies for grants to the Ohio Department of Transportation by March 2014, according to Brenda Divine, Safe Routes Hudson Coordinator.

The Safe Routes Hudson Executive Committee, along with City Engineer Thom Sheridan, Kelemen and Safe Routes Hudson liaison, will meet in early January 2014 to finalize all infrastructure projects to be submitted in this funding cycle, Divine said.

With the connectivity plan prioritized, Council members revisited the idea of a sidewalk fund where developers or businesses could bank money for sidewalks in a fund that would use the money for high priority sidewalks.

Kelemen said a related issue is whether neighborhoods want sidewalks and sidewalk requirements for new developments such as River Oaks.

"Do we want sidewalks on both sides of the street, especially on cul-de-sacs?" Kelemen asked.

Some residents want a more rural look instead of curbs, lights and sidewalks, Basil said.

"One of the assets of Hudson is we offer different styles of living," Hanink said. "Not one size fits all."

Council President Hal DeSaussure said he wanted to see how the sidewalk ordinance "played into connectivity."

DeSaussure said Council could direct the Comprehensive Plan Committee, which is reviewing the comprehensive plan in 2014, to look at the sidewalk ordinance and make recommendations to Council.

Schroyer said the city would look at the connectivity list periodically and focus on the top 25 projects. In February the city would look at funding of the projects and also the sidewalk ordinance in a Council workshop.

Council asked that Community Development Director Mark Richardson to attend that meeting to provide input.

Email: lfreeman@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-541-9434

Facebook: Laura Freeman, Record Publishing

Twitter: @LauraFreeman_RP

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