Wendell commissioners are wrestling with a difficult question as they consider recent comments from Dr. Mark Vardy, who asked the town board not to make him build a sidewalk in front of his business.
Vardy’s concern is that none of the neighboring property owners have sidewalks, and if he constructs one in front of his business, pedestrians couldn’t really go beyond his boundaries safely. Vardy didn’t ask to get out of the sidewalk altogether. He said he would construct the sidewalk once neighboring property owners have constructed a sidewalk to his property line.
The argument against Vardy’s request is that Wendell folks want sidewalks and the town has to start somewhere in getting them built, even if that means there are some sidewalks that don’t lead anywhere right away.
We would argue that the town should enforce its rule and require construction of the sidewalk. As things stand, there is no safe place for a pedestrian to walk now. Constructing any length of sidewalk, regardless of whether it connects to another, helps ensure the safety of those who are walking that stretch of roadway. With no sidewalk option, pedestrians would be forced to walk in the street. That’s not good anywhere.
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Delaying sidewalk construction now also brings the problem of inflation. A sidewalk is likely to cost more, not less, years from now, when the sidewalk gets built. And there is also the problem of encumbering future owners of that property with the responsibility of building the sidewalk. If the town of Wendell brokers a deal here, they are striking a blow against safety and setting a difficult precedent for future requests.