Several Speak Out Against Sidewalk Project At Pierceton Council Meeting

May 14, 2024 at 9:16 p.m.

By Liz Adkins, InkFreeNews

PIERCETON — Around 20 people attended Pierceton's town council meeting on Monday, several of whom raised concerns regarding a proposed sidewalk project along Third Street.
Pierceton is planning on constructing a 6-foot-wide sidewalk, with ADA ramps, on School Street to Third Street, and then on Third Street from School Street to Catholic Street. The town is one of three in Kosciusko County participating in the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs' Hoosier Enduring Legacy Program.
During the public comment section of the town's meeting, many residents inquired about the sidewalk project moving forward, with some saying Pierceton did not keep community members informed of the plans. Several also wondered how much foot traffic the sidewalk would have, arguing that many pedestrians choose to walk on the roads instead of using the sidewalks already established within the town.
Amanda Vandermark, a local social worker, attended the meeting to ask multiple questions on behalf of residents. She told the council many in the community felt like their questions about the sidewalk project had been left unanswered.
In regard to liability, as there have been concerns about homeowners being responsible if someone falls and injures themself on the sidewalk, Vandermark said she contacted several property insurance agents about the issue.
"What they clearly stated across the board is unless Pierceton has a specific clause, or a specific liability, for the sidewalks ... it is the homeowner's responsibility," said Vandermark.
She also noted the Community Development Block grant handbook clearly states community members need to be involved in the project. Through OCRA, a Community Development Block Grant will provide some of the funding for the sidewalk's construction.
"What results if (the community is) not, is one, you get people who are upset, and two, you can open yourself up to lawsuits," said Vandermark. "So the cost is going to be even greater than the gain ... you are building a pathway that is leading strangers to your children. It's one thing to build sidewalks to get kids safely to school, but when you go and design a path ... I live in Nappanee. Our paths go to our parks, to our uptown. None of them lead to our schools."
Several in attendance expressed concerns about a dozen mature trees being cut down on East Third Street, and one community member said the proposed sidewalk would be close to her living room window. Many have also inquired about flooding on the east side of Third Street not being addressed in the project.
Kosciusko County Community Coordinator Amy Roe, who was at the meeting, provided information to community members about the town's strategic investment plan for projects as part of Pierceton's participation in HELP. Four projects were laid out in the SIP, including the improvement of sidewalks in town and creating a pole building for indoor activity use.
Roe said the pole building was the favored idea out of the four projects, but that plans for it were dropped following opposition from some in the community.
She also noted Pierceton previously held a weekend community event to allow more of the general public to submit ideas for projects, but that not a lot of people attended.
During the public comment section of Monday’s council meeting, the council voted to instate a three-minute time limit for any individuals wishing to speak during future public comment sections. Council had previously discussed implementing the rule, but had not officially voted on it.
Council President Glenn Hall said OCRA representatives will be at the June 10 council meeting to further discuss the sidewalk project, as well as improvements to the Pierceton-Washington Township Park using funds from the K21 Health Foundation.

PIERCETON — Around 20 people attended Pierceton's town council meeting on Monday, several of whom raised concerns regarding a proposed sidewalk project along Third Street.
Pierceton is planning on constructing a 6-foot-wide sidewalk, with ADA ramps, on School Street to Third Street, and then on Third Street from School Street to Catholic Street. The town is one of three in Kosciusko County participating in the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs' Hoosier Enduring Legacy Program.
During the public comment section of the town's meeting, many residents inquired about the sidewalk project moving forward, with some saying Pierceton did not keep community members informed of the plans. Several also wondered how much foot traffic the sidewalk would have, arguing that many pedestrians choose to walk on the roads instead of using the sidewalks already established within the town.
Amanda Vandermark, a local social worker, attended the meeting to ask multiple questions on behalf of residents. She told the council many in the community felt like their questions about the sidewalk project had been left unanswered.
In regard to liability, as there have been concerns about homeowners being responsible if someone falls and injures themself on the sidewalk, Vandermark said she contacted several property insurance agents about the issue.
"What they clearly stated across the board is unless Pierceton has a specific clause, or a specific liability, for the sidewalks ... it is the homeowner's responsibility," said Vandermark.
She also noted the Community Development Block grant handbook clearly states community members need to be involved in the project. Through OCRA, a Community Development Block Grant will provide some of the funding for the sidewalk's construction.
"What results if (the community is) not, is one, you get people who are upset, and two, you can open yourself up to lawsuits," said Vandermark. "So the cost is going to be even greater than the gain ... you are building a pathway that is leading strangers to your children. It's one thing to build sidewalks to get kids safely to school, but when you go and design a path ... I live in Nappanee. Our paths go to our parks, to our uptown. None of them lead to our schools."
Several in attendance expressed concerns about a dozen mature trees being cut down on East Third Street, and one community member said the proposed sidewalk would be close to her living room window. Many have also inquired about flooding on the east side of Third Street not being addressed in the project.
Kosciusko County Community Coordinator Amy Roe, who was at the meeting, provided information to community members about the town's strategic investment plan for projects as part of Pierceton's participation in HELP. Four projects were laid out in the SIP, including the improvement of sidewalks in town and creating a pole building for indoor activity use.
Roe said the pole building was the favored idea out of the four projects, but that plans for it were dropped following opposition from some in the community.
She also noted Pierceton previously held a weekend community event to allow more of the general public to submit ideas for projects, but that not a lot of people attended.
During the public comment section of Monday’s council meeting, the council voted to instate a three-minute time limit for any individuals wishing to speak during future public comment sections. Council had previously discussed implementing the rule, but had not officially voted on it.
Council President Glenn Hall said OCRA representatives will be at the June 10 council meeting to further discuss the sidewalk project, as well as improvements to the Pierceton-Washington Township Park using funds from the K21 Health Foundation.

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