On a narrow vote Monday, the Prairie Village city council approved a plan that will provide a guideline for the expansion of bike and pedestrian infrastructure in the years to come.
The plan, produced by consulting firm TransSystem and paid for in part through a grant from the Mid-America Regional Council, calls for the city to add more than 35 miles of shared bike lanes and four miles of dedicated bike lanes in addition to several shared-use paths that would be open to pedestrians.
While the city has for years acknowledged that it has a dearth of bike routes, the passage of the plan proved contentious as some council members fretted about the incorporation of suggested sidewalks and bike routes that nearby homeowners opposed.
Ahead of Monday’s vote, several homeowners who live in the the vicinity of Nall Avenue between 79th Street and 83rd Street voiced their objection to the plan’s call for a sidewalk along the east side of the street. The construction of a sidewalk there, they said, would likely require the removal of trees and historic stone walls.
While staff and elected officials clarified for the residents that the plan was only conceptual at this point and that individual items of it would still have to go through detailed planning and budgeting processes before ground could break, a number of council members balked at the idea of adopting a document that had features opposed by some homeowners.
“I am all for bike and pedestrian friendly cities, but when I read this, it says by committee we approve the proposed bike-pedestrian plan,” said councilman Ted Odell. “For me personally, I cannot approve that, especially with the sidewalk on Nall.”
Public works director Keith Bredehoeft noted that the proposed bike lane along a stretch of Nall was tentatively scheduled for consideration as part of a 2020 road project. Planning for that project would start next year.
“Stay tuned,” Mayor Laura Wassmer told the residents who attended the meeting to voice concerns. “You will be engaged in a process next year to talk about this in detail.”
As for the sidewalk on the east side of Nall between 79th and 83rd, that would be considered as part of a County Assistance Road System project set for 2021.
“This project will mill and overlay the street and replace deteriorated curb/gutter and sidewalk,” said Melissa Prenger of PV Public Works. “As briefly discussed last night, the question of ‘to build’ or ‘not to build’ this stretch of sidewalk will be brought back as part of the CARS project development.”
Councilmembers Chad Andrew Herring, Ron Nelson, Tucker Poling, Andrew Wang, Sheila Myers, Courtney McFadden and Terrence Gallagher voted in favor of the plan Monday. Councilmembers Serena Schermoly, Jori Nelson, Dan Runion, Brooke Morehead and Odell voted against it.
The plan is embedded below: