Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Appropriate footwear

    Ketchum needs to post signs at the beginning of every block of pitted sidewalks: “Danger: Flats with vibram soles advised. Heels, flipflops or cute sandals may be hazardous to your health.”
    The city needs the signs because its old sidewalks are in disrepair and getting worse with the passing of every winter.
    Freezing and thawing take their toll on everything in the mountains, and concrete, paver, asphalt and board sidewalks are no exception. All of them eventually become pitted and potholed and need to be repaired.
    Yet, despite the regular lip service that elected and appointed officials have given to making Ketchum a highly walkable town, and the apparent understanding that “walkability” is key to a vibrant, attractive and economically viable downtown, the city’s sidewalks haven’t received the kind of TLC they need. Many have been neglected for decades.
    In a special City Council meeting on Wednesday, July 9, the city will propose, review and adjust its budget for next year. The public hasn’t seen what’s in it yet.
    Last year’s budget objective for the Street Maintenance Fund was “to provide street maintenance and improvements for driving, walking and bicycling public.” The budget contained specific line items for signs and street lighting, but nothing specific for sidewalk repairs.
    The mayor and council shouldn’t let that happen this year. The lack of specificity in earmarking funds for sidewalk repairs makes it too easy to put off repairs.
    The city’s budget has been stretched thin for several years. Even in good times, elected officials never proposed or campaigned for local improvement districts to raise funds specifically for sidewalks. They left the ball in the city’s court to tackle a problem that is a serious safety issue that’s getting worse.
    If Ketchum leaders decide again to let city sidewalks go begging, it should scrap other “walkability” efforts and stop the speeches because they are fast becoming a joke.


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