By NATHAN GREGORY
Public discussion on bicycle safety helmets at Tuesday’s Starkville Board of Aldermen meeting was one of two hearings which drew varied reaction from citizens. Input was also given to the board about proposed amendments to the city’s sidewalk ordinance, mostly of which was in favor.
The amendments, proposed by Ward 5 Alderman Jeremiah Dumas, mandate the construction of sidewalks in city areas deemed appropriate and exempting areas of the city that have less traffic flow. With the adjusted language, the ordinance’s purpose is to promote the safety of pedestrian access and protection for the physically able, physically challenged, children or seniors within appropriate areas of the community.
The changed language is as follows: “Sidewalks are required within all new subdivisions; however, those subdivisions occurring outside of the city of Starkville Sidewalk Development Area are required to only provide internal sidewalks and not connections to adjacent properties with no sidewalks. In the event that sidewalks exist adjacent to a new subdivision outside of the Sidewalk Development Area, connections must be made from the subdivision to the existing system. Developments within the Sidewalk Development Area shall provide sidewalk connection to adjacent, undeveloped property or properties and any adjacent, existing sidewalk.”
Dumas said a mass transit system study sent the city recently submitted to the Mississippi Department of Transportation served as a guide to this plan.
“What I tried to do with this was link this directly to the mass transit system study that was just submitted to MDOT that we are getting some very favorable language on,” Dumas said Tuesday.
Specific exemptions to the ordinance include the Industrial Park area bounded by Industrial Park Road, Pollard Road, Miley Road and Airport Road.
“We wanted to focus sidewalk development on the east side of Industrial Park Road and not the west side … (In the Sportsplex area), what we see is significant student development, and another criteria we looked at was looking at Highway 25, Highway 82 and Highway 12. These are significant barriers from a pedestrian standpoint,” Dumas said. “There are developments that will happen in these areas that are required to have frontage roads, and we know those often times present impediments.”
Charles Henderson, a resident of Ward 1, said Stark Road should be excluded from the ordinance.
“It’s a little confusing to me that it’s taken this board a year to figure out we need to do exactly what my alderman (Ben Carver) asked you to do in the Industrial Park area. You’re coming back and doing exactly what he proposed when the ordinance was presented a year ago,” Henderson said. “I was talking to a person on Stark Road who was wanting to add to his parking lot and was told he had to put in sidewalks. The sidewalks aren’t going to go anywhere. We’ve already had another business who didn’t build because he had to build sidewalks, so it looks to me like Stark Road should be excluded from it too.”
Ward 7 resident Judy Ridner said as someone who commonly walks to work, she was supportive of any measure that would boost sidewalk development.
“My husband and I moved from Timber Cove to Green Street this past year. One of the reasons why we did it was because we both teach at (Mississippi State University) and we wanted to walk to campus. One of the things we found was there are not sidewalks to get from our house to campus,” Ridner said. “If there is anything, if this ordinance supports this, I’m totally in favor of it … The more Starkville can do to be friendly to walkers, the better off we’ll all be. I would encourage us to think about the future and think about people walking around.”