The Prairie Village city council this week gave preliminary approval to the idea of filling a “missing link” in sidewalk access to a local school.
Belinder Avenue has sidewalks on either side of the street for the majority of the stretches north and south of Belinder Elementary, with the notable exception of the road between 73rd Street and 75th Street on the east side.
City staff had identified the missing section as a perennial impediment to pedestrian connectivity in the neighborhood. Staff noted that, since the closure of Somerset Elementary and the redrawing of the attendance boundaries so that families living south of 75th Street now send their children to Belinder, more and more kids have been crossing 75th Street to get to school each day. However, a break in the sidewalk on the west side of the street immediately south of 75th Street means students don’t have an option for an unbroken path to get to school.
“A single path on the east side for students who have access south of 75th Street is good connectivity and creates a more walkable path to school,” city staff wrote in a memo.
The city did receive input for residents who own homes along that stretch who said they opposed the idea of adding a sidewalk. One homeowner attended Monday’s meeting voiced his objection to the idea. Others wrote comments during a neighborhood meeting expressing concerns with loss of yard space, the burden of sidewalk maintenance on elderly homeowners, and the loss of trees. The topography of the land may require the construction of a retaining wall in two yards, which was also a concern to some.
But several families with school children expressed their support for the project, saying it would improve safety.
Tony Biagioli, who just moved to the neighborhood and who had a 6 year old and a 2 year old, told the council he was frequently worried about trying to cross the street with his children.
“It makes me nervous, taking my two kids across it,” he said. “It’s not a good situation now.”
The council unanimously voted to move the item ahead for final consideration at a future meeting.