Feigel’s Statement on Tates Creek Sidewalk Issue

Feigel’s Statement on Tates Creek Sidewalk Issue

—by Andrew Wyllie

I just received CM Feigel’s statement on the Tates Creek sidewalk project.  I responded to her and the rest of the city council members and have included my response below for your reading enjoyment.  I have also included her original statement below my response.

Hello CM Feigel,

I understand your frustration with this Tates Creek sidewalk situation, but I need to point out some of the problems in your statement which I have include below.

According to Kenzie Gleason, the cost of the project has been established very precisely:
“Total project cost is $1,014,200. Eighty percent ($811,360) is from federal funds. Twenty percent ($202, 840) is from local general funds. The budget includes funding for design, construction, landscaping and contingencies.”  I should also add that there is a 20% contingency fund budgeted in to that cost estimate should there be some unforeseen costs.

Also from Kenzie’s document:
“A survey will be completed during the design phase of the project to determine the exact location of the right-of-way. Preliminary review indicates it is 8 to 10 feet wide along the corridor. The right-of-way was secured when Tates Creek Road was widened to four lanes in anticipation of a future sidewalk installation. Preliminary grading for the sidewalk was also completed at that time”

So, the right-of-way has already been prepared for the installation of sidewalks, no poles will need to be moved or water lines.  Why on earth would you move a water line in order to install a sidewalk anyway?

With respect to sidewalks on one side of the road:
“Sidewalks on one side would improve safety only for those pedestrians whose origin and destination are on the same side of the street. Best engineering design practices recommend against constructing sidewalks on only one side because it increases pedestrian exposure to traffic by requiring them to cross the street more frequently. In addition, Tates Creek is a very wide roadway and pedestrians may be unlikely to cross to use a sidewalk on the opposite side. This is evident in many locations in Lexington where there are worn paths opposite of one sided sidewalks.”

If you do not have a copy of the project facts document, I suggest you contact Kenzie in the Division of Planning directly.

Of course these costs have to be balanced out with other projects around the city, but many of the major projects you have listed are self funding if the city could get their act together.  For example, if the police actually enforced traffic laws in an efficient manner, they would easily be able to collect more in fines than the costs of their salaries.  Same goes for code enforcement.

This idea that the sidewalk creates more impervious surfaces is also ill informed.  Runoff from a sidewalk simply runs off the side of the walk into the grass and has little impact on storm runoff.  There are no storm sewers on a sidewalk.  On the other hand, most people have their storm drains from their roof and run off from their driveway flowing into the storm water system.  If more people ran their roof runoff into their grass instead of onto their driveway or directly into storm sewers it would greatly reduce the amount of storm runoff that needs to be handled.  In fact, in Toronto the city paid homeowners to disconnect their roof downspouts from the storm water system for exactly this reason.

Sidewalks are a necessary part of any city.  At least 35% of the population of any city, including Lexington, does not have access to a car.  What you are saying by not supporting this project is that people who do not own cars are second class citizens.  That is a very unfortunate position to take in this day and age.  Economically, bringing in $800,000 into the local economy when jobs are hard to find can’t possibly be seen as a bad thing.  I would also imagine that the businesses in the Landsdowne area would appreciate having better access
to their businesses.

Finally, I’d like to point out that many of your constituents live in the 5th district because they want to be able to walk and bike to work either downtown or at UK.  There has been a huge effort in my neighbor to support this project, larger than I have ever seen for any other city issue since I have lived here.  I have had neighbors come to my door as well as numerous email messages about the walk-in scheduled for the evening.

Thanks for your time,
Andrew Wyllie



and here is the original statement:

Statement on Tates Creek Sidewalks from Councilmember Cheryl Feigel –

The Tates Creek Sidewalk project has become something it should never have become, a hot potato.  When neighbors begin to take sides and work against one another, it?s a no-win situation for all those involved. I’ve seen these projects and there’s no happy ending. I’ve tried, over many years of public office, to build consensus and create excitement and energy for a project rather than push it through by hook or crook, which is common in politics.

As this project was proposed, before my tenure, it is my understanding that it was not done in a manner to build consensus and create excitement.  I have observed that it was guided through a process to reach a defined conclusion, which excluded the kind of essential input from the public and city officials which could have generated a win-win project with tremendous support.

Without a lengthy description of this unusual process, suffice it to say that I would have done things very differently with full transparency and with a fair-minded regard for the public input process.  I have never supported the hook or crook method.  The process used has now pitted neighbor against neighbor and friend against friend, and all of the above against the city council members.  This is very sad, indeed.

The primary concern I have at this point is this.  We have been granted approximately $800,000 from the State Transportation Cabinet to support this project.  The City must match this by 20% which takes approximately $200,000 from our general funds – plus any additional funds necessary to complete the project. That’s the real issue here.

We have no real cost analysis to determine if the project is a $1,000,000 project or a $2,000,000 project.  We know that over 100 utility poles must be relocated, which is not included in the grant. We know that the cost of additional right of way is necessary but we don’t know how much or even where it is and this cost is not included in the grant.  We know that water lines for the fire hydrants must be relocated and we have no estimates for that cost, which is not in the grant.  We know that mature trees and landscaping on private property must be removed, or are at great risk of being killed.  These costs are not in the grant. I’m not an engineer but would bet that as the project proceeds, there will be additional unanticipated expenses with the very common ‘change orders’ coming before council.

I am a proponent for sidewalks projects to make Lexington more pedestrian friendly.  However, as a member of the council I also must put all expenditures into a more comprehensive assessment of needs of my district and our city.  Such as:

  * I hear from my constituents almost daily regarding their concerns about speeding traffic in their neighborhoods.  The only way to address this is with more police officers.  We currently do not meet the national standards for public safety officers for a city of this size.

  * I understand that our fire department is seriously understaffed and that ‘overtime’, which is required to provide the minimal level of safety we must provide, has exceeded all budgetary constraints.

  * I frequently hear from constituents that neglected properties within their neighborhoods are affecting their quality of life and negatively impacting their property values.  The 2009 budget froze all new hires and two additional code enforcement officer positions who would have handled those calls, that were never filled for lack of funds.

  * Many folks request more funding for the arts and I supported reinstating funds in the 2010 budget because I believe, in these economic times, our citizens need local activities when personal vacations may no longer fit within their budgets.

  * The parks system within our community is of the 70’s vintage, with meager funds made available for maintenance to tennis courts, ball fields, restroom facilities, swimming pools, etc. . . . In fact, I’m heading a task force to find creative resources to begin funding an update of our parks system.

  * Throughout the winter I heard from constituents who felt their streets were not adequately salted or plowed.  In fact, after the winter weather, many of the streets in the 5th district have seriously deteriorated.  In fact, there are streets within the 5th District that haven’t been resurfaced in decades due to budgetary constraints.

One of the most difficult decisions I’ve had to make, as a councilmember, is to assess every taxpayer a storm water management fee to cover the decades old problems in our storm water and sewer systems, systems that have been neglected in the city budget by previous councils.  I voted for you to pay for the impervious surfaces on your property, because I felt I had no other choice to solve the serious problems of flooding and water quality.  In my heart of hearts, I cannot rationalize adding more impervious surfaces.  In fact, the city’s message is ‘do as I say and not as I do’.  Furthermore, we don’t even know if those sidewalks will have to be removed in a couple of years to replace the failing sewer/storm water system.

I firmly believe this particular project, for which we have no real cost estimates, was pushed to this point with a lack of forethought, no comprehensive plan including storm water/sewer implications, and no regard for this economic crisis in which we, as council members, now more than ever, must be vigilant to a fault of where your tax dollars are being spent.

In an effort to find a solution to this dilemma with Tates Creek Sidewalks, I have met with the State Transportation Cabinet to discuss options and learned that:

        * There is no June 30 deadline

        * The location for the grant project cannot be moved from Tates Creek Road

        * Once the grant has been accepted and real cost estimates are done, we can decline the project but must repay the State for any expenditure.

        * Any additional funding beyond the grant must come from the City

        * The scope of the proposal can be restructured to reduce the sidewalk to only one side of Tates Creek, with a request from the Mayor.

I have proposed this alternative to the Mayor and have agreed to support it on the East side of Tates Creek due to more non-residential uses on that side.  The scope would include creating crosswalks with high priority for safe crossing.  The proposed alternative would allow the project to proceed and serve as a measurement for the ultimate need for pedestrian traffic.

After hearing from so many concerned and interested constituents, I felt I needed to respond with an explanation.  Even if we do not agree, I hope this will help you to understand where I am coming from.  If you would like further comment or information on my position, please contact me at cfeigel@lfucg.com or 425-2283.