Re: Story, “Sidewalks all they’re cracked up to be” April 27 MDJ
Rarely do you read an article about a community issue and actually agree with both points of view. I agree with Commissioner JoAnn Birrell that sidewalks are a very important part of the community and should be added at every opportunity. I also agree with ex-Commission Chairman Earl Smith that SPLOST money should not be used for something that should have been planned for and funded originally.
Sidewalks should not be an afterthought. They should be the concrete thread that weaves our housing developments into a community. Easier said than done in the spread-out environment that is common to the South. We have lots of individual subdivision developments that are islands to the rest of the community and are only accessible by cars. Roads get lots and lots of planning (money) but sidewalks are seen as an extra and unnecessary expense. Of course Earl Smith doesn’t see people on sidewalks, they don’t lead anywhere! How many subdivisions do you drive by that have one or two ribbons of concrete that come out of a beautifully landscaped entrance way and stop? No planning is done to connect them with the adjacent subdivision or any local shopping areas. Mr. Smith’s frustration with sidewalks is a direct by-product of prior commissioners’ failure to properly plan for a community that is connected by pathways for bikes, walking and other recreational purposes. How far along would this area be if prior planning commissioners had demanded that sidewalks be incorporated in every subdivision design?
How about making shopping areas and grocery stores have sidewalks that connect to adjacent subdivisions. Why are sidewalks a priority for schools now? Weren’t safe routes a priority when the school was built? How about having sidewalks that connect to bus stops? OK, I realize I hit the third rail of lack of planning in Cobb County — sidewalks and mass transportation (bus or rail or trolley) are two very different problems that share the same lack-of-planning future that our Cobb County Government has brought us. These failures all contribute to a car dependent and forever clogged road system community.
Our commissioners should have made sidewalks and trails more of a priority in the initial planning of this community. Since that ship has sailed, it is time to make sidewalks a budget priority and not a SPLOST fix. In case our local politicians are not getting the voters’ message, Cobb county residents are tired of paying more and more taxes — of any kind.
Transportation spending should be made with our overall community in mind. Anyone think that was done with the soon-to-be-built Braves Stadium?