Merriam removes West Vernon Place from sidewalk infill program

West Vernon PlaceAfter extensive discussions between Merriam city leaders and several members of the public, the city council decided to remove West Vernon Place from the city’s sidewalk infill program.

Assistant City Administrator Meredith Hauck said there was “significant public comment and quite a bit of council discussion” on the topic of sidewalk infill. Safety is a priority for all who spoke, she added.

“Those against sidewalks in this neighborhood generally supported sidewalks throughout the community, but felt that a ‘one size fits all’ approach wasn’t the best way to proceed,” Hauck said, “and since West Vernon Place doesn’t have through streets, the money budgeted for sidewalks there could better be used somewhere else in the community.”

The council voted 6-2 to remove West Vernon Place from the sidewalk program. Councilmembers Nancy Hupp and Christine Evans Hands voted in dissent.

While 12 members of the public spoke to the council on Monday, more than a dozen neighbors had voiced their opposition to the project at the city’s May 13 council meeting. Most who spoke in May against plans to add sidewalks to West Vernon Place said their neighborhood has always been quiet and safe for them to walk on the street.

Residents were also concerned about trees, planters and other items that might be disrupted or removed to make room for sidewalks. Those discussions in May led to the decision by city leaders to continue the discussion to Monday.

Engineering and design plans for sidewalks in West Vernon Place will stay in city hall for now. Hauck said the next step is for staff to develop a plan for how to best proceed this year with plans to install sidewalks in the other neighborhoods identified for the program.