City council ponders sidewalk situation

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The Craig City Council set aside $20,000 in the 2003 budget for sidewalks, but how or when that money will be used has yet to be determined.

Councilor Tom Gilchrist said he would like to see the city take the lead in a sidewalk construction project, but there are several concerns about taking that on.

"One issue is whether there is going to be enough money to make an impact without property owner participation," City Manager Jim Ferree said. "We placed the money in the budget and we'll see if there's any interest."

Council members are considering whether to put a question on the April 2003 ballot that asks for a small mill levy to be dedicated to sidewalks.

One mill generates $45,000.

Ferree believes property owner participation will likely be necessary for a successful program.

"We'd have to do it slowly one block at a time and I don't know whether every property owner on a certain block would participate," he said.

Another concern is who will be responsible for maintaining the sidewalks keeping them snow free once they are constructed.

"The question is, if the city builds them, will we be responsible for maintaining them?" Gilchrist asked.

The city will prioritize routes setting paths to schools as a top priority, but that in itself presents other problems.

There are several streets where there is no space, steep grades or no easements to construct sidewalks.

"There are a lot of issues to be discussed," Ferree said. "It's not going to be an easy program to initiate."

Ferree has copies of sidewalk plans implemented by other cities and will research whether any of those programs would work in

Craig.

"We'll investigate several options and see which works the best," he said. "You can't do much with $20,000. Hopefully property owners will participate."

Time is drawing near for a decision. The last council meeting in which the council may introduce an ordinance placing a charter amendment or ordinance on the election ballot is Jan. 28.

The council has until Feb. 11 to place a financial issue or other voter approval issue on the ballot.

The council also is considering placing a question involving the use of the abandoned sewer lagoon property on First Street and a question about whether to increase council wages in sync with cost of living increases.

In addition, there will be five council seats open. Seats belonging to Mayor Dave DeRose and councilors Tom Gilchrist, Kent Nielson, Carl Chapman and Billy Bingham are up for election in April. None of the incumbents have officially announced any re-election intentions.

Christina M. Currie can be reached at 824-7031 or by e-mail at ccurrie@craigdailypress.com.

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