45 thoughts on “New Sidewalks Going in on Westchester Drive”

    1. I’m still mad at the Lamont-Vidal anti-sidewalkers–meanwhile I’m terrified I’ll hit one of them walking around in the middle of the street in the evening without reflective clothing.

      1. I wonder if there has been enough resident turnover to revisit the sidewalks on Lamont and Vidal?

    2. Those silly Westchester residents! Don’t they know that pedestrians walking babies, dogs, etc. and that kids walking to Westchester ES belong in the STREET?! Sidewalks are for suckers.

  1. I missed the Lamont/Vidal anti-sidewalk debacle. Anyone care to briefly recap?

    1. It’s not hugely complicated. City policy is to work towards a minimum standard everywhere in Decatur of a sidewalk on at least one side of the street. Lamont/Vidal don’t have any and, when the city raised the possibility of installing some, residents (exactly who and how many is probably where the crux of the story is — someone closer to the issue will have to chime in) organized to say no.

      1. I wish the city would come back and be more systematic about it. We moved to Lamont after the issue was debated but would gladly “give up” the right-of-way (that the city already has) to get a sidewalk my kids could walk on. Stroller dodging is not fun for the driver or the parent.

      2. No poll of residents occurred. Anti-sidewalk residents organized and came up with a petition. Pro-sidewalk residents didn’t know they should organize and come up with their own. I’m not going to try to represent others on what the pros and cons were. But I think it’s an embarrassment to be the only neighborhood in the City of Decatur in recent years to oppose sidewalks.

      3. Same thing happened in my corner of the city. Our family wanted sidewalks but enough neighbors organized a “no” campaign. We’d still like to have one, but no biggie. We’ve survived for many years without one, and our street doesn’t get much through-traffic anyway.

  2. We get a lot of FAST cut-through traffic on Garden Lane and have many young children on the street. A sidewalk would be great.

    1. Similar to the Westchester neighborhood’s thought process re: a Westchester sidewalk, Y traffic, and drivers cutting the Clairemont/Scott corner.

      There was a good bit of neighborhood disagreement over the sidewalk, which is why only a portion of one side of Westchester is currently getting a sidewalk. The pro-sidewalk group organized a petition campaign. To my knowledge, though there was disagreement, everyone was pretty civil about it. I hope the anti-Westchester-sidewalk crowd will still use the sidewalk:)

      1. I heard Pinetree was similarly anti-sidewalk. Would love to see sidewalks on this frequent auto traffic cut-through. And most of the houses have plenty of yard to spare.

  3. I was closely involved with the Lamont/Vidal sidewalk discussion (FYI: I’ve lived on Vidal for 20 plus years). At the time there were a number of residents very interested in adding sidewalks, on the other hand there were more residents who were concerned about how much yard they might lose and what the additional concrete would do to the runoff issue. As we got deeper into the details, it became apparent that the terrain changes would require retaining walls along the way, a lot more curb work than expected and – in the end – the City could not guarantee that the additional impervious surface would not add to the water issue.

    The walls would take up even more yard, the additional curb work was pushing the costs up and the kicker – the culvert at the bottom of the hill under Lamont is at capacity. So if we guessed wrong and there was more runoff than anticipated, the creek could have had more flooding issues than we already have at that location. In my opinion, that was probably the deal breaker.

    1. Fred, thanks for that information. I’ve lived on Garden for a few years and that’s the most detailed overview of the issues I’ve heard yet. As someone affected by the Peavine Creek’s occasional flooding, it’s very helpful to know that storm-water runoff was a concern.

      I’ve talked with a few neighbors, new to the neighborhood like me, who are surprised by the lack of sidewalks. However, my personal opinion is that it’s a solution in search of a problem that doesn’t really exist. People stroll along Garden and Lamont constantly, and the lack of sidewalks haven’t stopped them. I just don’t think we need it.

      On another topic brought up earlier, I’m all for developing a path along the creek. That would be awesome.

        1. If only James Dean would paint Pete the Cat strolling along the Creekwalk! Think he reads this blog…

    2. We don’t really know that there were more residents against than for sidewalks, do we? No poll of the neighborhood was taken. It was just who knew to complain. A lot of folks had no idea they should be speaking up. Re runoff: Some of the biggest complainers about runoff put in huge concrete patios or 3-car garages with no worry of effect of runoff on others. The big problem, IMHO, was that folks had planted on right of way that they didn’t own.

  4. I wouldn’t want a sidewalk taking up five or six additional feet of my front yard if it wasn’t there when I bought the house. That’s bringing people five or six feet closer to your house. That sounds picky, I know, but when you don’t have a huge front yard it’s a lot of yard to lose.

    Wouldn’t it also limit the amount of expansion work you could do to the front of your house? Isn’t it correct that, if I wanted to add a front porch, for example, I wouldn’t be able to do so if it meant my house was X feet away from the curb?

    1. As far as I know, the city never takes anyone’s yard. They only utilize the existing right-of-way.

      1. I’m confused. What do you mean? (Just a question, I really don’t know what you mean).

        1. I’m gonna go speculative here so take it with a grain of salt. As I understand it, one’s property does not extend to the curb. From the curb to X feet in is the city right-of-way. Most places have an existing sidewalk, so this is obvious. However, lots in Decatur without a sidewalk still work the same way. People may have landscaped the area as part of their yard but it does not fall within their plat and is not actually “theirs”.

          Anyone know for sure how this works?

          1. Thanks, Scott. Pretty good speculation (it makes sense), but I wonder if anyone can confirm?

            Personal opinion here, but I wouldn’t want the city running a sidewalk through my front yard (even if it is right-of-way).

            1. You do not own the land to the right-of-way. Your property line ends somewhere before the curb and likely before you see any utilities. Otherwise you’d need utility easements across your property for power lines, sewer lines and water lines (other than laterals), cable, etc.

              It all depends on how wide the sidewalks are. If a city wants to build sidewalks in an existing neighborhood, they will want to use existing right-of-way because it’s a complete pain in the butt to acquire new ROW from many different residential property owners. That is why new residential neighborhood standards typically require enough ROW to put in sidewalks, streets, and maybe some landscaping.

            2. A good way to estimate the right of way is look where your water meter is located. It is often at the edge of the right of way. From there to the curb is the city’s. Not exact, but often close.

            3. Well, my thought was that every street is designated a right-of-way based on the type of street. (Sec. 90-84 says Arterial = 100′ ROW, Collector =60′ ROW, and Minor = 50′ ROW)

              As with the original post, Westchester Dr. has a 60′ ROW and the paved street is 30′.
              (see page 3: http://www.decaturga.com/Modules/ShowDocument.aspx?documentid=1259)
              Therefore, a total 30′ ROW remains, shared equally (15′) on each side of the street measured from the curb.

              I may have this wrong, but that’s the way I thought it through.

  5. hmmm, maybe if sidewalk was built and retaining wall added it would eliminate the need for certain bike parking on Adair? I think there might easily be interest to crowd-fund this (i.e. the more than usual cost for the retaining wall)…

    1. Leave Sam’s bikes on Adair out of this. There is a sidewalk across the street, so this already meets code. He puts those bikes there to insure that cars don’t park there and block sightlines for oncoming traffic. People drive down Adair like it was a main thoroughfare, and it isn’t even wide enough for two lanes of traffic.

  6. I was not aware of the Videl/Garden/Lamont sidewalk rebellion but just the thought of property owners standing up to the stragetic planners warms my heart. Makes me think of banners for some neighborhoods, the segmented snake labeled with rebellious streets and the motto , “Don’t Tread On My Front Yard Damnit”.

    1. More accurately: “Don’t Tread On The City Right of Way Because I Care More About the Plants and Trees that I Planted There As Though It Were Mine than About My Neighbors’ Ability to Walk Safely Around Their Neighborhood.”

      1. Based on some increasing rumblings here and there, I anticipate the pending blockbuster sequel to “Sidewalk Wars” will be “Alley Wars.” The stakes are raised. No longer are we talking about vanity aesthetics. Now it’s significant amounts of real estate that some have claimed for themselves. And others want to take back.

        With Steve Buscemi as the homeowner, Matt Damon as the activist, Robert Redford as the Mayor, and Abigail Breslin as Faith, a mysterious newcomer with poignant lessons on how we can all get along and stop claiming things that aren’t ours.

        1. BTW, there was a prequel back in the early 1990s, “The Outsiders”, when a lot of the orginal settlers in the NW Decatur area objected to sidewalks because “outsiders” might start walking on our streets more. I used to imagine hordes of outsiders coming by bus to the area, walking politely on the sidewalks, stealing everyone’s TVs, and then quietly walking back to the bus stop with arms full to wait.

            1. Yeah, my favorite part was how the TV-stealing sidewalk-strolling outsiders were going to negotiate the hub-and-spoke train-bus system.

      2. Not that you aren’t right to some degree, but the city expects the homeowners to maintain the property. I was in one of the meetings recently regarding sidewalks, and the city engineer treaded very lightly when this subject came up. Yes, it is their property, but no they won’t maintain it. So, if I am expected/obligated to plant the area, cut grass, pull weeds, etc. etc. etc., I believe that I have the right to exclude others unless/until the city puts in sidewalks.

        The only reason the homeowners don’t have an adverse possession claim is b/c the statute doesn’t allow anyone to obtain title by prescription from the government (which is the correct policy BTW). But, for all practical purposes, this strip of land has been abandoned by the city.

        1. Just so everyone is aware that “maintain the property” obligation is pretty minimal. We essentially do nothing there since nothing seems to grow at our street edge. (We do pick up the newspapers/freebies and the few leaves that end up there). A sidewalk would be a major decorative improvement. Just saying. No one obligates owners to put in thousands of dollars of improvements in the right of way.

  7. Interesting Right of Way discussion here. So I have a huge tree, meaning 4 -ft.- diameter-, -$12k- removal- cost -if- it -ever- fell- down- tree on this right of way. If it ever were to die/fall, would this be the City’s responsibility to remove (since it is on the ROW between the curb and sidewalk), or mine?

    1. Great point!

      There is a massive oak tree that is in our neighbors right of way. It is leaning further and further over our street, threatening to kill anyone who lingers at the stop sign. We only noticed it when we had arborists check out the trees in our yard, and they all were alarmed by the severity of the lean.

      We called the city to alert them to the threat. I think they sent out someone to look at it… but nothing happened.

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