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|No "Safe Route to School" for Gale
|Residents of one Galesburg neighborhood have gotten their way: they won't be getting sidewalks.
The Galesburg City Council Monday night night essentially turned down a $268,000 federal grant that would build almost a mile of sidewalks in the city's Northland Subdivision, all, officials say, so students could walk to Gale Elementary School. The project was one of about four-dozen such projects considered for the federal Safe Routes to School Program, but the only one approved in Galesburg.
Advocates for the sidewalks, among other things, claimed that not having the sidewalks would be a disadvantage for the disabled. Katherine Holland is Executive Director of the Stone-Hayes Center and wanted to have the motion tabled, fearing not having the sidewalks would break the state and federal law that helps the disabled. "The intent of both of these laws is to guarantee access for all citizens regardless of age, disability...that all of us would have free rights of citizenship," Holland said.
Holland said she was worried the city could be held liable if a pedestrian were injured or killed while travelling on a street without a sidewalk, though city attorney John Hanlon says that's not likely.
Another advocate for the disabled, and a Northland resident, Marty Spencer, says he's handicapped and is torn, but doesn't want the sidewalks. "We do not have the traffic problems and all of our kids have never had a problem," Spencer said. "I don't believe there's been an accident in our neighborhood all the years that we've been there."
A number of the residents who spoke out at a public hearing on the proposal last month were at the city council meeting as well, citing tree loss and the general feeling they just didn't have a voice in something they should have.
The vote was two in favor of receiving the grant and four opposed . The yes votes were from Aldermen Bill Kendall and Russell Fleming. Alderman Ken Goad voted "pass", and Mayor Gary Smith was absent from the meeting.
(Fred McGunnigal, a resident of Galesburg's Northland Subdivision, speaks at Monday night's Galesburg City Council meeting. WGIL News Story and Photo by Will Stevenson.)
|02 02 09 by Newsroom
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