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As a coalition that envisions communities where we all thrive, LiveWell Lawrence and our members address a range of issues focused on improving the health and well-being of Lawrence and Douglas County. One aspect of this is encouraging the development of a built environment that is bikeable, walkable, and accessible, meeting the transportation and recreation needs of all members of the community.
This week the Lawrence City Commission will discuss an issue directly related to this: establishing a Sidewalk Hazard Repair Program. This program was first proposed in March 2017 as a solution to sidewalks that are in disrepair throughout Lawrence. By state statute and city ordinance, sidewalk maintenance is the responsibility of the property owner adjacent to the sidewalk, placing the financial burden of providing a public service on private property owners.
Our Healthy Built Environment Work Group, in partnership with the Lawrence Pedestrian Coalition, has closely followed the issue, researched similar programs in other communities, and listened to the concerns of community members. Based on their work, LiveWell Lawrence believes an effective and equitable approach to maintaining sidewalks should incorporate these principles:
Unfortunately, the proposed program falls short of these principles. While we recognize the financial and legal challenges of taking an approach that shifts the financial responsibility to the City, we do believe we can do better as a community to develop creative solutions.
At a minimum, we support changes to the policy that ensure the following:
We encourage our members, partners and supporters to learn more about the proposed program by reading the proposal and attending the March 5 Transportation Commission meeting or March 6 City Commission meeting, and consider voicing your concerns to the Commissions. As a coalition, we are committed to continuing to work with the Lawrence community on this issue in order to create the best possible built environment for all members of the Lawrence community. Thank you for your continued effort to build communities that support the health and well-being of all.
Sincerely,Eilzabeth Keever, ChairJeff Severin, Chair-ElectLiveWell Lawrence