November 28, 2014

Elyria
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Avon’s master sidewalk plan largely finished

AVON — Where does the sidewalk end? In Avon, plenty of places. The city has tried to connect the dots for two decades.

Planning Department officials met with Parks and Recreation Commission officials Thursday night to talk about the slow process of connecting new sidewalks with existing ones.

According to planning coordinator Jim Piazza, when the city drafted a sidewalk connectivity master plan eight years ago, it focused on building sidewalks near schools, churches and parks.

That work is largely finished, he said, and since that time the focus has been on identifying areas that need to be connected. Piazza said city ordinance requires the developers of housing developments to pay for sidewalks, a price generally included in the price of a new house. Homeowners in older areas of the city will be charged by the city.

One area is Long Road, where 14 homeowners on the east side of the road will be charged $16 to $20 per linear foot to install sidewalks, or roughly $1,600 to $2,000 for the owner of a 100-foot lot. Piazza said homeowners on Long Road understand the need since a new middle school will open next year at 3445 Long Road.

Assistant planning coordinator Pam Fechter said the city hopes to obtain federal dollars through the Safe Routes to Schools grant program to ease the burden on homeowners, but Avon has trouble getting such grant money because it is a wealthier city.

“I’m meeting with a representative from the Lorain County Health District who specializes in this program to see if there are some things the school can put in place to help get more points toward a grant,” Fechter said. “Being a richer community, sometimes it’s hard to get the dollars we want.”

Avon has installed about 20 miles of sidewalks over the past 20 years. This year’s projects include Chester Road from an auto dealership to state Route 83 and Detroit Road from the Kline Ditch to Veterans Park.

Next year the city plans to build sidewalks on the west side of state Route 83 from Kinzel Road to Detroit Road, and along the east side of Long Road from Stoney Ridge Road to Detroit Road.

Piazza said costs increase when sidewalks must cross a creek or ditch. In the case of crossing the Kline Ditch, it cost the city about $50,000 to build a culvert so the sidewalk could cross the ditch.

Next year the city will spend up to $1 million to build a pedestrian bridge to cross French Creek so a sidewalk can run along state Route 83.

If homeowners refuse to pay for sidewalks, the city foots the initial bill, Piazza said. But a charge is assessed on homeowners’ taxes over a 10-year period, which Piazza said winds up costing about 6 percent more.

During Thursday night’s meeting, the potential for a citywide 8-foot walking path system also was discussed, but city officials said not much progress has been made. However, Piazza said the city has obtained easements in housing developments to prepare for a day when a large trail system can be constructed throughout Avon with the intent of connecting to the Lorain County Metro Parks trail system.

“We’re assembling rights-of-way so that someday, if the Metro Parks has some money to budget, we’ll give them the rights to build on our property,” Piazza said.

Contact Jon Wysochanski at 329-7123 or jwysochanski@chroniclet.com. Follow him on Twitter @JonWysochanski.