Feb 272013

By Julie Wiessner
Several residents of a Winslow neighborhood interested in promised sidewalk work in their area want to keep the City of Winslow on track with what they believe is a pledge given to them in 2011. These residents include former councilman Tom Chacon, Pelagio (Joe) Ortiz, Jerry Ortiz and Richard Smith.
City Manager Jim Ferguson says the work will be done, but funding plays a big part in the scheduling.
The project was to create a number of neighborhood sidewalks, with funding to come from the one percent sales tax fund. The project included sidewalks, curbs, gutters and Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) ramps beginning in 2011.
Phase One was to be completed in 2011 and Phase Two in 2012 for four different neighborhood communities, including Southside, Cooper Town, Taylor Town and First Street.
Phase One included Washington Street, Central Street, First Street, and portions of Robert Avenue and Dent Avenue that lie within those neighborhoods.
Phase Two in 2012 was to consist of Jefferson Street, Short Street, and portions of Virginia, Cottonwood, Taylor, Parker, Leonard, Alder and Bales Avenues, which would complete the First Street neighborhood’s sidewalks.
Of the scheduled Phase One sidewalks, the residents say only Southside and Cooper Town’s were completed. That was Southside’s Washington Street, and a portion of Robert Avenue. However, a portion of Virginia Avenue and Jefferson Street were completed since they surround Sacred Heart Park in Southside. Also completed was Central Street in Cooper Town.
Nothing yet has been done on Phase One for Taylor Town or the First Street communities. Nothing has been started at this time on Phase Two for any of the four communities.
“The surveying and designs are finished and have been paid for in the amount of $249,000, and costs will only escalate. The main intent of the group is to keep the program on track, that they don’t forget about it,” said Chacon.
Ferguson addressed the issue by saying, “It is a matter of prioritization and trying to improve sidewalks throughout the city. Council will set priorities in the March 7 meeting. The city spent over $800,000 two years ago in Southside and Cooper Town to get one street in each of the two communities with sidewalks. Currently, it costs $75,000 a block to get sidewalks, gutters and ADA ramps installed, and we have $300,000 each year set aside for these projects. We’ll get back to getting these sidewalks done.”
The citizens believe they were given a four-year plan, but Ferguson stated, “This is a six to eight-year plan for neighborhood walkways and streets. We do have neighborhood sidewalk improvements through 2015.”