Yo, progressives — sidewalks are a social justice issue. But we spend a lot more on paving, don’t we?

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Don’t strain your eyes looking. There were no signs warning of a closed sidewalk throughout the period of work, even though handicapped users could not pass. How much effort can it possibly take to think FIRST about walkers and handicapped users? 

My new work schedule has made it somewhat impractical to attend city council meetings, but I can still read the minutes.

It’s budget time, and in the minutes from August 16 there was a casual mention of combining money from two different funds to free as much as $3 million for paving in 2019. Note that this sum addresses paving alone. It does not include various other street expenditures, the bulk of which go toward automotive-enoblement projects.

It would be interesting to arrive at a comparison of car-centric expenditures and those going to improve and enhance non-automotive options. I think it’s safe to say that sidewalks (to name just one) receive much less investment on an annual basis. At the risk of error, my guess is that we rely primarily on Community Development Block Grants for the cash for sidewalk improvements. This excerpt is from the 2015 CDBG draft.

Sidewalk Spot Improvements $1,100,000: Funded throughout the Five-Year Plan to provide for improvements where deteriorated sidewalks restrict connections that can benefit pedestrians or to repair spot basis sidewalks where incidental deterioration exists. Sidewalk improvements of approximately 1,795 linear feet are planned each year. Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant ramps are included.

Um, impressive.

Dear reader, do you think of yourself as a progressive? If so, are you aware that deteriorating or non-existent sidewalks are a social justice problem of escalating dimension?

Read on, if you dare.

Crumbling Sidewalks Become a Legal Battleground, by Adina Solomon (CityLab)

A lawsuit in Atlanta reflects a growing movement that demands accessible, well-maintained sidewalks—and rejects budgetary constraints as an excuse.

I’m shocked — SHOCKED — at the possibility of cities not properly budgeting for sidewalks.

For one thing, the ADA became law nearly three decades ago, in 1990. Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, which guarantees certain rights to people with disabilities, dates back to 1973.

“At this point, it’s hard to imagine that cities aren’t appropriately accessible,” says James Harrington, an adjunct professor at the University of Texas at Austin and founder of the Texas Civil Rights Project. He has worked on sidewalk-related cases in Texas. “The ultimate defense, of course, is they can’t afford it, but when you’re looking at 30 years of notice, then it’s hard for them to say they can’t afford it had they not structured it into their budget as they were supposed to from the beginning.”

Attorney James Radford, who is representing the plaintiffs in Atlanta, says he spent two to three years on research before filing the lawsuit. He met with people in wheelchairs and looked at sidewalks across the city to gauge whether maintenance was a systemic issue. He also found a 2010 report from Atlanta’s Department of Public Works saying 18 percent of the city’s sidewalk network was categorized as deteriorated.

“If you look at the budgets over time, they just decided not to fix it,” Radford says.

But … but … annual paving is the very basis of pay-to-play!

And it’s important to remember that it isn’t just a matter of convenience.

“Cities should invest in sidewalks if they want to increase walkability, often for some of the most vulnerable parts of the population, but [also] for the general population as a whole,” Loukaitou-Sideris says. “Now that we have the back-to-the-city movement, we have more people walking or wanting to walk. As costly as it is, it is not as costly as paving highways.”

Of course, New Albany municipal bureaucrats typically cite their own long-neglected sidewalks as an excuse to mow down street trees accused of buckling walkways, but subsequently they repair only a fraction of the sidewalks thus liberated from the insidious tyranny of shade.

Can old trees and sidewalk repairs co-exist? New Albany’s lickspittle clique says no, but surely there’s a way, although we probably won’t discover a solution for so long as Nanny Barksdale insists on clearcutting anything green (except money).

Seismologists record earthshaking Tree Board orgasms as Schoolmaster Barksdale’s chain saw strikes again.

Meanwhile, the newspaper’s most recent reporter hire dug a bit and learned that the street tree recently landing atop a car on the south side of the 100 block Market Street — this being the side of the street slated for zero improvements according to the city’s latest sycophant-endorsed plastic Disneyfication plan — had been reported repeatedly to the city by the business owners nearest it.

Here finally was an obviously rotting tree, one certifiably justifying pre-emptive removal, and of course the city did nothing; however, once the tree fell, all remaining living things on the block were removed and light landscaping followed at a glacial pace, taking something like six days, with parking in front of the salon blocked throughout.

That’ll show them for running to the newspaper instead of Big Daddy G. As for Ms. McAfee, she’d best be careful with truth-telling like this. Deaf Gahan might get huffy and cancel his newspaper ads — and without ads, how can Bill dispatch an editor all the way to Evansville to cover Herr Drumpf?

New Albany business owners frustrated with delays in removing tree, by Brooke McAfee (Tom May[de] in the Shade)

NEW ALBANY—Local business owner Angela Shaughnessy said she wishes the City of New Albany had taken immediate action to remove a hazardous tree before it fell.

On Wednesday, a tree uprooted and fell on top of a car parked downtown on Market Street in New Albany.

The car was damaged, but it was unoccupied at the time. No injuries were reported.

Shaughnessy, co-owner of Downtown Style on Market Street, said she and her business partner have called the City of New Albany multiple times about their concerns with the tree. The tree was located outside of her beauty salon, and she noticed that large portions of the tree’s base were visibly hollow.

“I don’t know how it was still standing,” she said …

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