Walk The Walk

Walk The Walk

City thinking deeper on sidewalks


The ire surrounding a sidewalk proposed for a neighborhood near the University of Arkansas campus prompted city officials to rethink their approach.

The Transportation Advisory Committee will reconsider its list of recommended sidewalk projects for the year. The City Council on Jan. 2 approved building 4,420 feet of sidewalks throughout the city after taking out two controversial proposals for Ward 4.

Halsell Road and Oliver Avenue join along the same pathway a block away from Reynolds Razorback Stadium. The proposals would have put a sidewalk on the north side of Halsell Road from Cross to Oliver avenues and the west side of Oliver Avenue from Halsell Road to Maple Street.

Several residents who live along the stretch spoke adamantly against the sidewalk’s construction, saying it would serve as a detriment to the neighborhood. The narrow road sits on hilly terrain rife with vegetation. Plus, the city’s right of way cuts about 15 feet into the front yards of residents living on the north side of Halsell Road.

The Free Weekly /ANDY SHUPE
Sarah Marsh, Fayetteville City Council member, uses a tape measure Jan. 3 to measure the width of Oliver Avenue in Fayetteville to better understand options to improve the street and make it more walkable.

Council Member John La Tour, one of the Ward 4 representatives, also lives in the neighborhood and operates a business there renting tailgating space to fans on game days. He expressed support for a sidewalk, saying people routinely walk in the road, creating an unsafe situation.

On Jan. 3, Transportation Services Director Terry Gulley told committee members Halsell Road and Oliver Avenue were off the list. Mayor Lioneld Jordan has final say on where city crews build sidewalks but takes the recommendations into consideration.

Sidewalk projects generally are divided among the four wards of the city equally. The list now might be determined based on the entire city’s needs, rather than what could go in each ward.

Also, resident feedback will serve as a major decision point, Gulley said.

“If there is an upswell on any sidewalk that we propose that is totally opposed by a neighborhood, we’re not going to spend that money there. We’re going to move it somewhere where it’s wanted,” he said.

That leaves 1,750 feet and about $165,000 worth of sidewalk up for grabs. Committee members will come up with other areas in Ward 4 that could use a sidewalk. Council Member Sarah Marsh, who serves as vice chairwoman on the committee, also asked the committee to come up with a second list that doesn’t break projects down by each ward. Multiple City Council members brought up that approach during the previous meeting on Tuesday.

The Transportation Advisory Committee’s lists will head to the Transportation Committee, which is made up of half the City Council. Then the full City Council consider the recommendations during its first meeting in February. Gulley and his department also will make recommendations.


Changes To City Code

The committee also recommended changes to city code regarding sidewalks. Enforcement of violations is complaint-driven.

• A property owner can’t allow vegetation to obstruct a sidewalk. A minimum 8 feet of clearance above the sidewalk and 2 feet back from the edge of the sidewalk must be maintained.

• If the situation is not corrected within 10 days of notice, city employees will remove the vegetation and bill the property owner.

• Recycling, trash and yard waste carts cannot block the sidewalk.

— Source: Staff Report


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