Sidewalk talk: Aldermen flip it and reverse it
by Alan McArthur
In a reversal of a decision last week to move ahead with sidewalks on First Street, the Platte City Board of Aldermen voted Tuesday night to stop the installation. The new amendment to the plan may require the reworking of some driveways.
Last week during a special meeting held on the subject, the aldermen did not stop a resolution to move forward with the sidewalks. However, this week a new resolution was supported by all six aldermen to stop the sidewalks along First Street between Academy and Spring Streets.
Several citizens attended the meeting to express their opinions.
“A sidewalk would ruin my driveway,” said Michael Best, resident on First Street. “I went to the people on my block, and they are all against it.”
A city ordinance most residents have referred to, states that the property owner directly adjacent to a sidewalk is responsible for the maintenance of the sidewalk.
“Almost everywhere I go in Platte City, there’s no maintenance on sidewalks,” said Best. “Even in front of some of the aldermen’s houses there are trips in the sidewalks. I’d rather see the money spent to repair sidewalks in town, rather than put this one in.”
“I feel the city should be at least partly responsible for the sidewalk maintenance,” said Jerry Grame, representing his father, a First Street resident.
The mayor stated he thinks that the sidewalks should not be forced on residents if they don’t want them.
“I’d like to throw in my bid,” said Dave Brooks, mayor. “My personal feeling is if people in the area don’t want sidewalks, then why push this on them?”
Alderman Andy Stanton asked the other aldermen to reconsider.
“When we first got this, I thought it would be a slam dunk,” said Stanton. “I told the people in my shop today that I’m going to make someone mad no matter what I vote. It’s easy for someone to say they want a sidewalk if it’s not on their property. I beg my fellow aldermen to reconsider this issue.”
Some residents wondered why the plans could not have changed to keep the driveways the way they were.
“Why not make the street fit my driveway?” said Best. “Why not spend more money to raise the street rather than ruin my driveway?”
Keith Moody, city administrator, responded that each driveway is different and raising the street would have ruined other driveways along the street.
Some aldermen stated they are for installing sidewalks, but would stop it if residents did not want the sidewalks.
“I’m concerned about the precedent we are setting,” said Todd Sloan, alderman. “I am concerned that we will stop building sidewalks in this community.”
Because this petition to stop sidewalks is so recent, the contractor had already poured some of the driveways with the sidewalks already. Some of those may need to be removed to restore the driveways.
“I just hope we are not going to have to go in and redo driveways and spend the money we just saved,” said Aaron Jung, alderman.
The aldermen ended by voting unanimously to accept the amendment to stop the installation of sidewalks.
The aldermen also heard about the following issues:
•New property assessments were made available, which showed an increase in value of nearly $12 million. The report also showed that no new residential permits have been issued in the last 18 months and the new construction percentage of the value is the lowest since 1998. According to Moody, this shows a slowing of investment in the community.
•The city continues to work with developer Bill Mann. Mann now wants to implement a 7/8 cent tax instead of the 5/8 cent initially presented and an assessment of 2 cents per square foot instead of 7 cents as part of a Transportation Development District in the Platte Valley Plaza. The new rates would raise around $1.6 million over 20 years. According to Moody, all of the roadway improvements and stop lights would cost approximately $1 million, but would likely double with interest. The improvements are expected to take 3 to 4 months to complete.
•The aldermen appointed Douglas Schulte to the planning and zoning commission and Stan Palmer and Catherine Corcoran to the board of zoning adjustment.
•The aldermen approved revisions to the pay scale for city employees. The revisions increase the range of pay available to employees, but does not increase individual salaries.