Windermere residents raised concerns about a construction project that would install a sidewalk along Sixth Avenue during a workshop meeting on April 24.
The project involves installing a five-foot-wide pedestrian sidewalk along Sixth Avenue from Main Street to Lake Street. The proposed sidewalk project is just part of a larger multimodal network plan to make the town of Windermere easier to navigate for pedestrians, bikers and golf cart drivers.
“The sidewalk project that we’re planning to put in now will be an inter-connector from Main Street to the future multimodal (path) that we plan to put in,” Windermere Public Works Director Scott Brown said. “We’re also looking to build a multimodal (path) through the middle of town on what used to be the old railroad right-of-way. That’s projected in the future. We’re just trying to put Windermere back to being the walkable community that residents have asked for and want and trying to make it safe in the process.”
A few town residents who live along Sixth Avenue attended the workshop and said they were all in favor of the proposed sidewalk project. However, they raised concerns about the planned placement of the sidewalk. The proposed plans call for placing the sidewalk 18 feet into the right of way along Sixth Avenue. Residents were concerned that the proposed plans place the sidewalk too close to their homes.
“Eighteen feet is really far into our property and all the properties over there,” Jamie Cox said. “It puts you in our yard. You’d have people walking right through the middle of our yards. … We don’t understand why it needs to be there as opposed to being five or six feet in (the right-of-way).”
Louis Sterling also shared his thoughts of the project.
“As a resident of the town, I’d like to make sure that we’re all safe — not just the (property) owners, but also the pedestrians that are walking through,” Sterling said. “I agree with the council (that) safety is key, and at the same time, let us be cognizant of (what is) going to be fair and best for all.”
Brown said safety was a key factor when in comes to deciding the placement of the proposed sidewalk.
“What I know from developments in the past is you build things appropriately,” Brown said. “You start with the sidewalks on the right-of-ways (and) you move them in because you want the pedestrian traffic as far away from the vehicle traffic as possible … for safety and the welfare of the public.”
Discussions of the project will continue either at another workshop meeting or during a Windermere Town Council meeting. Because of traffic problems, the engineer of the project was unable to attend the workshop to discuss the project.
“We’re just waiting for the engineer — who should have been here — to explain why the decisions were made (the way) that (they) were made,” Mayor Gary Bruhn said. This (workshop) allows us to have a consensus so I can go ahead and bring it forward. The question I have now is: Is it ready to go to council for discussion or is there too much discussion to where it should be (discussed) in a workshop?”