Oregon City Council, after months of discussion, finally ordered sidewalks along a section of Navarre Avenue between Coy and Lallendorf roads to improve safety.
A group of disabled residents, many in wheelchairs, demonstrated last year on Navarre Avenue to raise awareness of their plight to get to nearby shops in the area.
The group, which had discussed its concerns at committee meetings, frequently travelled in the street due to a lack of sidewalks on the north side of Navarre Avenue.
The city had required that property owners be petitioned for the improvements, since they will be assessed for the sidewalks. More than half of the property owners from Coy to Walmart on Navarre signed the petitions. But from Walmart to Lallendorf, less than half signed them.
Oregon Council earlier this month voted 6-1 for a declaration of necessity to construct the sidewalks.
“I think it’s the only responsible thing that the city can do,” said John Trendell, of Brown Road, who is a member of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, S. Coy. “I stand here as a member of that church and one of its representatives. We are certainly in favor of the sidewalk petition.”
Kathy Reichow and her husband Dan, also backed installing sidewalks. Their business, Dan R’s Automotive, is on Navarre.
“Dan and I are here tonight to say we’re in support of the sidewalk project. We hope you’ll take serious consideration of doing the sidewalks from Coy to Lallendorf,” said Mrs. Reichow before the vote. We’ve been in our building for 10 years. That was one of the issues when we built - we couldn’t take up some of our property because sidewalks were coming in the near future. And 10 years down the road, they’re still not there.”
P.J. Kapfhammer, Navarre, also offered support.
“I would sure appreciate it if the sidewalk went all the way to the park. When I ride my bike with my family, we have to go in the opposite way and go down Pickle because there’s nothing that ties us to the park. It does kind of separate the city,” said Kapfhammer. “It’s safer to use sidewalks than go onto Navarre Avenue. And that’s what started this whole discussion - that there was no access besides going on Navarre to get to the stores on Navarre. I would appreciate it so we could use it, and the rest of Oregon could use it, to get to Pearson Park, the rec, and the schools. Once you have that, you’ll have safe routes, and you can use those sidewalks too to get to the bike paths.”
“The last time this was up for discussion, that was one of my precise points, that the section south of Navarre Avenue was basically cut off,” said Councilman James Seaman. “That’s one asset of extending the sidewalk all the way down to Lallendorf on that side of Navarre Avenue. I know people do ride their bikes on the sidewalks. It just seems like it’s a relatively safe avenue when there’s not a lot of pedestrians on there at the same time.”
Councilman Dennis Walendzak said it was just a matter of time before a motorist driving down that stretch of Navarre struck someone in the road.
“I believe this sidewalk project would benefit the community with access to the stores, restaurants, and shopping centers along the north side of Navarre that currently does not have sidewalks,” said Walendzak. “Both pedestrian and bicycle traffic, and the wheelchairs and motorized carts, do have to travel down Navarre, causing a safety hazard, not only for those citizens, but also for the drivers.”
Councilman Jerry Peach voted against the measure.
“I believe there is unanimity on council that - at least between St. Paul’s Church and Walmart, where there was overwhelming support by the property owners - a sidewalk will be ordered in. The remaining question is, should a sidewalk also be ordered in for the portion of that stretch of road, between Coy and Lallendorf, even though the support there was only one out of every five property owners?”
Public Service Director Paul Roman said engineering for the project has started.
“We will put together a bid for the drainage and hopefully get that in this year. It could be possible that seeding will have to wait until spring,” he said.
Property owners, he added, can install their own sidewalks.
“Property owners would be expected to either get bids on their own, just like the sidewalk repair program, and install the sidewalk,” said Roman.