This week, the Missoula City Council approved a new way of paying for the sidewalks it wants installed.
Wanna know what Councilman Adam Hertz calls it? The council’s “irrational sidewalk fixation.” (Tee-hee.)
Hertz was the only elected official to vote against the new program, and he said we can expect an upcoming referral from him about sidewalk priorities. He doesn’t want to vote against every project in the future ’cause that’s “sour grapes,” but he does want to see a good plan in place.
“Moving forward, I think we really need to sit down and map out where we see the need for sidewalks, where people are allegedly asking for sidewalks, and come up with an efficient sidewalk plan,” Hertz said.
He doesn’t want to see the city replace sidewalks that aren’t really in bad shape,and he prefers adding, not replacing.
In an email, Hertz explained his rationale for opposing the new program:
I totally get that the sidewalk funding issue came up because of how hard it is to order in sidewalks and stick the adjacent property owner with the bill, but there’s an easier way to fix that: Don’t order in sidewalks unless they’re asked for by the adjacent property owners and figure out a cheaper way to build them!
The Missoula City Council has now created two classes of property owners. There’s the group who has paid and continues to pay for 100 percent of the cost of sidewalks adjacent to their property – the people who bought property with sidewalks already installed, those building new homes, and people drawing building permits for remodels or additions that require sidewalk installation or replacement. Then there’s the subsidized group who bought property that they KNEW didn’t have sidewalks or had broken sidewalks in a city with an irrational sidewalk fixation and no consideration for keeping the cost of building sidewalks reasonable. The first group gets to pay for 100 percent of their sidewalks and the subsidy of other peoples’ sidewalks, and to Missoula’s “progressive” crowd this action is lauded as “fair.” The old sidewalk funding model may have been painful, but it was certainly much more fair.
Councilors can see things so differently, right? Today, Councilors Dave Strohmaier and Jason Wiener celebrated the sidewalks on Lolo Street.
Here’s Strohmaier in a news release about the ribbon cutting:
Whether you’re pushing a baby stroller, walking your kids to school, commuting to work on foot, or just getting some exercise, sidewalks knit our community together and are essential components of pedestrian safety. It’s been a long haul, but after years of work and planning, we finally have curbs and sidewalks along the full length of Lolo Street — the major east-west connection in the Rattlesnake. I’m proud to have been a part of this effort, and I thank everyone who has made this day a reality.
Me, I use the street when I’m walking in the dark in my neighborhood. I figure if a bad person is hiding in the bushes and ready to jump out and clobber me, I’ll get a head start on ’em. I know you might think that’s irrational.
In the winter when it’s snowy, the best path for me is the one car tires already cleared, and the street is less slippery than a lot of the sidewalks. I don’t recommend walking in the street, and for the record, I’d be afraid of getting run over in the middle of Lolo Street. I’m just saying there’s different takes on safety out there.
More takes? We’ll be hearing from Hertz and a couple other councilors on sidewalk priorities soon enough.
– Keila Szpaller