Sidewalk committee looks to connect Monticello

City Council
By: 
Kim Brooks
Express Editor

     After a couple of complaints regarding sidewalk connectivity in the Breckenridge subdivision, the Monticello City Council directed city staff to form a committee to recommend a solution to the council.

     A sidewalk committee, led by Police Chief Britt Smith, was later formed. Six community residents are serving on the committee.

     Smith said with 30-some houses in Breckenridge, they were all required at one time to have sidewalks installed in front of their home.

     “When the development started, they were to have sidewalk throughout the whole development,” Smith said.

     However, the sidewalk stops at the two gateway properties.

     “Kids (walking to Carpenter Elementary) have to walk in the street,” reported Smith.

     The goal of this sidewalk committee is to make sure there are sidewalks in this particular area to get kids and pedestrians to where they need to go safely.

     “We want them to be connected to the rest of the community,” Smith said.

     Adding sidewalk in Breckenridge where it currently does not exist would then connect that area to both Seventh Street and Gill Street.

     When giving his update to the Monticello City Council during their Sept. 21 meeting, Smith said the committee also recommends a 50/50 cost share with the four single-family properties and 75/25 (with the city paying 25 percent) for an apartment complex.

     After a lengthy discussion at the council meeting, Council member Dave Goedken commented that he’d like to see a citywide sidewalk policy developed from this committee, and not just a neighborhood-by-neighborhood policy.

     “We need to set a uniform policy,” Goedken said. “It definitely needs to be addressed, but in a uniform manner.”

     Goedken also felt the 75/25 cost share for the owner of the apartment complex was unfair.

     “If we’re going to assess, we need to look at this policy as a whole,” he added.

     Goedken said if the city is going to mandate sidewalks everywhere, the city ought to kick in some of the expense.

     Smith said there are different sidewalk concerns in different areas of town. This particular area at Breckenridge came about due to concerns getting kids to school safely.

     Smith and Mayor Brian Wolken felt a citywide policy was too much to take on right away, but rather piece by piece throughout the town.

     “We need to start small versus the entire community as a whole,” said Wolken.

     One of Mayor Wolken’s goals is to see Monticello known for being a walkable community.

     “It’s one thing to adopt a policy; it’s another to implement all at once,” City Administrator Doug Herman pointed out. “Keeping it simple is your best bet.”

     He informed the council that they have the authority to order city residents to install sidewalks, and can choose how to assess for such a project.

     “There’s a process,” he said. “You have to enter into an agreement with the owner and voluntary assessment.” Herman said it’s best to look at sidewalk installation as a voluntary assessment to get property owners on board.

     It would up to the council, too, if they wanted the city to cover ancillary costs associated with sidewalk projects such as retaining walls, additional fill, etc.

     “That could level the playing field,” added Herman.

     Council member Brenda Hanken said there are areas of the community where people don’t even use the sidewalks.

     “Key areas are missing a few sections of sidewalk,” noted Smith. “Do we need to make sure entire streets and neighborhoods are connected?”

     Smith shared that, in the past, there had been complaints about the lack of a fully connected sidewalk in Breckenridge.

     “It’s gone unaddressed,” he said. “These recent complaints spurred action and the formation of a committee. It’s been a contentious issue.”

     Herman advised Smith to have the sidewalk committee attend a future council meeting to hear directly from the council in terms of their next steps.

     In Smith’s mind, the sidewalk committee needs to first develop a citywide policy and pitch a final recommendation concerning Breckenridge to the council. From there, they can prioritize the entire community make recommendations that make sense (based on a multitude of factors).

     “We’re not looking to enforce sidewalks for the entire town,” stipulated Smith. “But there are small areas that we can improve upon to make things more connected.”

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