Roeland Park is like many northeast Johnson County cities with sidewalks along some streets and not along others. But the city has a plan. The city hasn’t undergone a significant sidewalk buildout for a few years, but the criteria for future pedestrian access along city streets has been set. The priority for the city right now is making all of the existing sidewalks safe and hazard free.
The city council this month made some revisions to a policy it adopted earlier in the year. That policy sets the priorities for which streets should get sidewalks and how the policy should be implemented. The first priority is fixing what is currently in place. The policy says “no new pedestrian access routes should be built” until all of the existing infrastructure is up to code and free from defects and trip hazards. That is the ongoing project taking place in the city now.
The policy also says sidewalks “may” be constructed as part of major storm water projects. Lots of sidewalks were added to the city during storm water projects between about 2006 and 2009, according to City Administrator Aaron Otto.
The city does not mandate sidewalks be built, but it does set out priorities for where they should go first. The highest priorities are for both sides of the street that are mass transit routes; one side on roads that qualify for county funding; where a gap exists in the current layout; those that are a high priority for Roesland School access; and streets that connect parks, schools, the library and community center.
The lowest priority are the streets with a low traffic count and cul-de-sacs. Another feature of the policy is that it specifically states the pedestrian access path can be moved to preserve trees or other natural features that should be protected.
Several cities, including Prairie Village and Fairway, have had sidewalk controversies in recent years. Roeland Park also has adopted the Mid-America Regional Council ‘Complete Street Policy’ that outlines creating transportation routes for all types of users.