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July 10th, 2014

Will residents tell Village to take a hike on sidewalk plan?

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Where the sidewalk ends” might just be in a meeting between Building, Zoning and Planning officials and Key Biscayne residents.
At least that’s what Vice Mayor Michael Davey suspects could happen when BZP Director Jud Kurlancheek meets over the summer with residents on several local streets – including parts of Glenridge Road, Ridgewood Road and West Enid Drive – about whether they want the Village to install sidewalks on their streets.
Davey thinks the idea may go over like a ton of bricks in some of the neighborhoods.
“Do you have neighbor buy-in on these?” Davey asked during a Tuesday, June 26, Village Council discussion about the city’s proposed 2015 Capital Improvements Plan, which includes a total of $244,000 in five line items for the sidewalk projects. “We’ve had fights over sidewalks for 20 years, and I’ve seen the vehemence with which some people oppose this.
“I’m all for sidewalks, but I don’t live on these streets – and I don’t think we should be going out and saying, ‘You need a sidewalk here.’ I don’t want us to be that government that says, ‘Well, you need them, we’re putting them in.’”
Kurlancheek said that certainly isn’t his intention, and he plans to hold block-by-block meetings this summer to gauge public reaction to the projects.
The blocks in question are Glenridge from Woodcrest Lane to West McIntyre Street and from West Mashta Drive to West Enid; Ridgewood from Hampton Lane to West McIntyre and from West Mashta to West Enid; and West Enid all the way to Harbor Drive.
While Davey said he thinks at least some neighbors will fight the idea – and asked Kurlancheek to bring back petitions signed by a majority of homeowners before the projects move forward – Mayor Frank Caplan is less certain the proposed sidewalks will get the cold shoulder.
“I think we’ll find people would like these sidewalks to be installed,” Caplan said. “Sidewalks are a boon. They’re positive. I think people enjoy having them.”
The Mayor added he agrees with Davey the Village shouldn’t be forcing the project if most residents don’t want it, but he does think it’s OK for the city to make its case for the sidewalks:
As Kurlancheek noted, the streets in question lead to the Key Biscayne K-8 Center, and are therefore high traffic areas for both cars and pedestrians. The BZP Director also pointed to high rates of construction in the area, which can make streets more dangerous for people on foot.
“This isn’t about forcing them down the throats of the recalcitrant and unwilling, but there is something to say for school safety, and residents should be told of that,” Caplan said. “If there’s a good idea, we should explain why we think it’s a good idea.”
Kurlancheek said he’ll report back during the Council’s budget hearings this September on what he hears from the public. He added meetings should start soon: he’ll notify the affected residents by mail, and set up a time to discuss the proposal: “We’ll see what happens,” he remarked.
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