By Holly Cook
During preliminary 2018 budget talks Monday Roeland Park councilmembers tentatively agreed they would like to dedicate $128,500 to upgrading the city’s sidewalks.
The sidewalk improvement discussion was initiated by councilmember Ryan Kellerman who proposed building a $128,500 sidewalk on the north side of Johnson Drive to support access to the pending micro-hospital and Commerce Bank development. The sidewalk would extend from the edge of the development to Ash Drive.
“Obviously we are going to have a lot more foot traffic coming and going,” Kellerman said.
Mayor Joel Marquardt said he found it difficult to walk through that area and agreed that adding a sidewalk “would be very helpful” for pedestrians.
Councilmember Teresa Kelly suggested upgrading the proposed ADA-compliant sidewalk to a universal design plan.
“It’s more than just throwing a sidewalk down and making it passable,” Kelly said. “I think it needs some more thought.”
Kelly also suggested incorporating design features into the sidewalk that would coordinate with the city’s ongoing rebranding efforts.
“Because it’s the edge of our city it makes a statement about who we are,” Kelly said.
Director of Public Works Jose Leon said the upgrades suggested by Kelly could potentially double the expected cost of the sidewalk.
Kelly said instead of focusing on plans for a single sidewalk she would like councilmembers to evaluate all city sidewalks. Councilmembers signaled they agreed with Kelly.
Kellerman also supported Kelly’s proposal to broaden sidewalk improvement efforts but reiterated he would like the specific Johnson Drive sidewalk given priority.
“Going forward tonight I’d like to see the council say yes we are definitely going to put the sidewalk down on Johnson Drive,” he said.
Councilmembers agreed improving the city’s sidewalk network should be a priority and did not give consensus to promote the specific sidewalk plan introduced by Kellerman. The council said a sidewalk improvement strategy would need to wait until various sidewalk studies were completed.