Upper Arlington News

Portion of Berkshire Road may get sidewalks

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Following a debate that divided neighborhood residents, Upper Arlington City Council will consider a city-driven initiative next month to install sidewalks along a portion of Berkshire Road.

In March, arguments from Berkshire Road residents seemed to indicate that those who live east of Beaumont Road do not want sidewalks in front of their properties, while those who live west of Beaumont are in favor of sidewalks.

At that point, council dropped its consideration of a citizen-led petition calling for construction of sidewalks on both sides of Berkshire from Northwest Boulevard to North Star Road. In addition to the neighborhood divide, the initiative stalled because it failed to secure support from people who own at least 60 percent of the front footage in the designated area.

Seeking a compromise, council is expected to introduce legislation May 13 to approve a city-backed initiative to build sidewalks on Berkshire west of Beaumont Road.

That tack, some council members said, would ensure sidewalks are only constructed along the portion of Berkshire where there is support for the project. It also would absolve residents on that stretch from having to organize another sidewalk petition.

"I'm OK with moving forward with a city petition only because the section we're considering had 70 percent interest," council Vice President Frank Ciotola said, adding that he wants to ensure the high level of support remains before approving the city initiative.

Concurrent to previous calls by Berkshire residents west of Beaumont, city officials have expressed support for sidewalks in the area because it is close to the Lane Avenue Community Entertainment District.

City officials also have indicated sidewalks would be a desired amenity for Cardiff Woods Park, a portion of which is located along Berkshire west of Beaumont.

Additionally, council's alternative action would allow the city engineer's office to redesign the sidewalk project and include it in a contract to be bid next winter for the reconstruction of Berkshire Road.

The engineer's office has estimated the cost of a total reconstruction of Berkshire would be $3 million.

If sidewalks are constructed, property owners along Berkshire would be assessed fees to pay for them along their respective frontages.

In March, City Engineer Dave Parkinson estimated it would cost a total of $247,000 -- or $47 per foot -- to build sidewalks on both sides of the street along the entire length of Berkshire.

There have been no official estimates for the cost of constructing sidewalks west of Beaumont along Berkshire, but during an April 15 council conference session, Parkinson said the sidewalks would cost half as much if they were included in the reconstruction project than if they were built at another time.

Should council approve the city initiative to build sidewalks along any portion of Berkshire, Upper Arlington would be required to finance at least 2 percent of the "improvement" costs for sidewalks, according to a city staff report.

The staff report went on to say that because 300 feet of the 5,310 feet of the proposed sidewalk west of Beaumont runs in front of Cardiff Woods Park and is owned by the city, the city "may choose to" pay for anywhere from 2 percent to 7.6 percent of the sidewalk project.

"Council may consider, based on the statutory language, paying only 2 percent, which would not cover the Cardiff Woods Park portion," stated the report signed by Upper Arlington City Attorney Jeanine Amid Hummer. "An alternative option would be to pay 5.6 percent, which exceeds the statutory 2 percent amount and entirely covers the Cardiff Woods Park portion."

Based on the schedule presented during the April 15 conference session, council is expected to consider the city initiative May 13 and May 28. Both meetings tentatively are slated to begin at 7:30 p.m. at the Upper Arlington Municipal Services Center.

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