Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Public Safety Building sidewalk issue

Remember in this post I had published a screengrab similar to this one:
Screengrabbed from this PDF as published by League City and dated September 17, 2012.
Yesterday I sent that grab to a collection of LC elected and administrative personnel along with this picture-tells-a-thousand-words:
West Walker just past the Interurban easement.
That sidewalk you see in the photo above is ours, meaning, it belongs to the public but we Centerpointe residents were the people who collectively paid for it because its price tag was rolled into the costs of buying a home in this neighborhood. 

I confirmed this via emails with our developer yesterday.  That approx. one mile of sidewalk stretching from this terminus all the way to State Highway 96 was a required component of the subdivision development plan approved by League City ("PUD plan" or "PID plan" or whichever the heck acronym applies).  Some of it doesn't even run in front of our subdivision but let me not even go there. 

So if I'm understanding our developer's description of this situation, what falls out of it is the following observation:

The continuation of this sidewalk to points east as these additional properties are developed... this is not just a matter of principle or aesthetics or me personally advocating healthier lifestyles that include places for people to safely walk, jog, or bike-ride, or my desire to see fewer local children run over by cars and killed in part because sidewalks are not available to them and they were forced to either wait for the bus or ride their scooter on the open road instead of on an available sidewalk. 

This is actually a larger issue - there's a property value ramification for us.  If League City does not extend that sidewalk across this new development, it devalues this substantial investment that we Centerpointers were forced to make through our installation of what I'd nicknamed the "Bridge to Nowhere":  a wonderfully broad, very expensive one-mile sidewalk that presently is of limited value because it doesn't connect to anything else.  And would remain of limited value if left perpetually in that condition. 
We paid for it.
We better make sure that we advocate for it.
From a value perspective, that connectivity may not be critically important at this very instant in time, but I strongly suspect that we as a society will continue to move in a direction where pedestrian accessibility becomes increasingly valued (but I won't get off on a tangent explaining why I think that).  Shortsightedness on issues of mobility today will be penalized in the form of lower property values tomorrow. 

For these reasons, this sidewalk connectivity issue is not something that I'm simply griping about.  It's an issue that I'm prepared to pursue with additional actions if necessary, but hopefully I won't have to, because I received an email from League City Communications Coordinator Kristi Wyatt which stated the following:

"City code requires sidewalks in front of the public safety building. Although this is not listed on the project webpage at this time, sidewalks will be included as a part of this project. This project is contracted as a construction manager at risk project, due to this delivery method elements of the project are bid at different times, sidewalks have not yet been through the bid process but will be included in the project."

Hopefully this will prove to be the case and the issue is thereby resolved.  I suppose at this point I could question what on earth prompted the site design engineer to be so detailed as to specify individual trees planted exactly thirty feet zero inches apart along West Walker in his September 2012 drawing, but simultaneously declined to include a major design element such as a sidewalk.  Let me not even go there right now, because the important thing is to see the issue resolved productively, not to find fault with any interim representations. 

So for the moment we will take LC's statement on faith.  But at the same time, I'll be keeping a sharp eye on the progression of that new development.

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