Some members of Oregon City Council showed their frustration that the city still has not been able to install sidewalks along Navarre Avenue from Coy to Lallendorf roads.
“I would like to see it go forward because it’s an important project to do,” Councilman Sandy Bihn said at a meeting last month. She has raised the issue before for safety reasons.
“As far as I’m concerned, it’s time to move forward,” said Councilman Mike Sheehy. “Let’s get moving. It’s something we need to do.”
Last summer, several residents, many in wheelchairs, demonstrated on Navarre Avenue for the need for sidewalks from Coy to Lallendorf roads to improve safety for pedestrians.
Many of the demonstrators had said they walk on Navarre Avenue to get to nearby shops and grocery stores.
Following the demonstration, council agreed that sidewalks are needed in the area and two petitions were circulated to area property owners.
Over 50 percent of property owners must petition for the improvements, for which they would be assessed. Some businessmen in the area who attended a meeting of the city’s Drainage, Roads, Buildings and Lands Committee last Aug. 22 were in favor of the sidewalks and had agreed to circulate the petitions, but they do not yet have enough signatures.
“We did have a meeting about a week ago, and both sets of petitioners have been trying to work together,” said Public Service Director Paul Roman. “Unfortunately, if you look at the entire block between Coy and Lallendorf, they’re at 49 percent. Actually, it might be a little less. If you look at just between Wal-Mart and Coy on the north side, you definitely have enough, maybe 80-90 percent. I don’t know if it makes up enough to cover the entire block, though. They’re still working on that to see if they can get the full block.”
Council has an obligation to order in the sidewalks if over 50 percent of the property owners in the area sign the petition, according to Mayor Mike Seferian.
“But if they’re close, you could still order it in, regardless. That’s your call,” said Seferian.
“I continue to be concerned because it’s summer,” said Bihn. “With the number of people in wheelchairs we see going down Navarre Avenue, many of us perceive that it’s an accident waiting to happen. I don’t know the rest of council’s feeling on this. But I would like to see this go forward for the safety of the community.”
Councilman Dennis Walendzak said the city could install sidewalks between Wal-Mart and Coy on the north side, since there are enough signatures on the petition.
“Obviously, the people in the wheelchairs are accessing Wal-Mart, then we could continue to move forward on the other side, based on what the other petition gets,” said Walendzak.
Roman agreed, but said it was still possible the required percentage of signatures on the other petition could be obtained.
“They think they are real close,” said Roman. “They are talking with each other, and coordinating it together, which is a good thing. As of right now, they’re still working on it.”
The city has enough money in the budget to cover drainage and to prepare for the project on the north side of Navarre for the sidewalk in this year’s budget, said Roman.
“It would be my request to say let us do the drainage work and everything else, then give the property owner a year to install the sidewalk. That would be the time frame I would ask for. It’s not like the sidewalk repair program, where it’s 45 days. I’m saying more like a year. And these are higher costs. This is a five foot sidewalk for a commercial area,” said Roman.
Sheehy said he was discouraged by the delay in getting the sidewalk installed.
“I just made that little walk from Navarre Avenue and Coy down to Fifth Third on Saturday morning, and there’s a beaten path - it looks like a third world country,” said Sheehy. “We’ve been talking about this for more than a year. We’re at a point where 50 percent of the people are in agreement to have it done. C’mon people. This is what we’re all about. The mayor has already said he is willing to support it. I think every member of council said they would support it. Let’s get moving. Let’s bring legislation at a committee of the whole and bring it forward. If we do this now, they’ll be paving it – not this year, but next year. And if we don’t move now, who knows how long it’s going to be.”
Seferian suggested that council set a deadline for the petitions to be submitted.
“If they don’t have the petitions brought in by a certain date, council can act on it,” said Seferian.
“But let’s have that happen soon,” said Sheehy.