Business owner raises concerns about potential sidewalk impact on Pawnee Street

Pawnee Street residents and businesses are the latest group to receive a sidewalk “opt-out” survey that’s part of a new Prairie Village policy approved by the City Council in September — and news that a sidewalk could be installed between 75th Street and 77th Street has caught some in the neighborhood off guard.

The Bank of Prairie Village’s landscaping on Pawnee’s east side would be impacted by a new sidewalk there.

Bank of Prairie Village chair Dan Bolen says he fears installation of a sidewalk on Pawnee would destroy a significant swath of greenspace the bank had installed to address water runoff issues.

“We did it because it was common sense,” Bolen said. “This same common sense dictates it will not be in the community’s interest to ‘pave over’ current green space on a double inclined slope street and replace it with concrete. Paving over mature trees will kill them.”

But Acting Public Works Director Keith Bredehoeft said the city’s assessment of the sidewalk route did not raise concerns about damage to trees.

“If the sidewalk is constructed I do not think we will have to remove any trees next to the Bank of Prairie Village,” he said. “There are a couple of Pin Oaks that will not be affected at all. There are a couple of pine trees that might need to be trimmed a bit but not removed. We will probably narrow the sidewalk to four-foot wide in this area as well to lessen any impacts.”

The council adopted the sidewalk “opt-out” surveys idea after years of controversy regarding the city’s policy to build a sidewalk on at least one side of the street on every residential block.

Despite the policy, however, protests for neighbors who didn’t want sidewalks in front of their homes often prompted the council to cancel sidewalk projects. The council adopted the sidewalk “opt-out” surveys as a way to standardize the city’s response to resident protests.

If more than 75 percent of residents on a street slated to have a sidewalk put in during street resurfacing return the surveys sent by the city and say they do not want a sidewalk installed, the city cancels the sidewalk installation.

The sidewalk “opt-out” petition survey for Pawnee will be completed later this month.