The MAPS 3 Citizen Advisory Board is again recommending city council approval of a master plan for sidewalks focused on need, not an even geographical split. But the board hopes the council can find more money to avoid falling far short of the 70 planned miles of MAPS sidewalks.
The board approved its trails and sidewalks subcommittee's recommendation that the sidewalks be built in locations determined by criteria that doesn't take into consideration what part of the city it's in. That, along with construction costs higher than consultants and the city initially expected, means some wards will barely see a hint of MAPS 3 sidewalk money.
Some city council members, led by Skip Kelly and Pete White, have been critical of any sidewalk master plan that essentially leaves some wards out, so the plan is likely to be the subject of debate. Kelly's Ward 7, for example, will have only about $200,000 worth of sidewalks out of the $9.1 million budget if the plan is adopted.
The city council sent the document back to the subcommittee last month. But after more debate, the subcommittee left it unchanged.
“We have visited that now about four or five times, (and decided) that we needed to trust the process and move forward,” board member and sidewalks subcommittee chairman Sue Hooper said.
Consultants told the sidewalks subcommittee last month there's only enough money for about 26 miles of the 70 planned miles of MAPS 3 sidewalks, which surprised many of the members. A recent city requirement for wider sidewalks, planned construction in areas with extensive underground utilities and rising construction prices contributed to the estimated cost increase.
City officials had said the cost estimate allowing for only 26 miles was perhaps overly conservative, so they expressed hopes Thursday that up to an additional 10 miles could be constructed with the existing budget.
“It's always just going to depend on how (expensive) the (construction) bids come back, obviously,” said city Public Works Director Eric Wenger.
The master planning document prioritizes more than 100 miles of sidewalk construction, so the city can start with the first project and keep going down the list until the money runs out. But the city council has discretion to change what the list looks like before its eventual adoption.
The Citizen Advisory Board also passed a resolution Thursday that urges the city council to find other ways to fund at least the full 70 miles of sidewalks marketed in the MAPS 3 campaign.