Mt. Lebanon signs policy for sidewalks

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Mt. Lebanon residents who want sidewalks in front of their homes now have a procedure to follow.

The municipal commission on Monday approved a policy through which groups of property owners can petition for sidewalk installation. Commissioners also voted to earmark $100,000 toward installation projects.

The actions came following an effort by residents of North Meadowcroft Avenue to provide a safe pedestrian route for their heavily traveled street, which intersects with Beverly Road near Lincoln Elementary School.

A group of residents presented the municipality with a petition containing more than 250 signatures, and all property owners along the proposed sidewalk route have agreed to bear some of the financial responsibility for the installation.

Commissioner John Bendel, in whose ward North Meadowcroft is located, said some more steps must be taken before a sidewalk is guaranteed, but he commended residents for their persistence.

"You were the catalyst to get the policy written," he said. "Although it's somewhat complex, there is at least a policy in place."

According to the new guidelines, residents on municipally maintained streets without sidewalks can petition the municipality for support to install new ones, provided they connect to existing sidewalks.

Priority will be given to streets that are designated as safe walking routes to schools, and where 100 percent of the affected property owners agree to accept the new sidewalks, construction cost sharing, maintenance and replacement.

The policy includes a formula for determining the "non-municipal share" of the cost, which property owners will pay prior to construction.

"It's a pretty good methodology, and it doesn't overly burden property owners who want sidewalks extended in front of their houses," said Tom Kelley, public works director.

The initial $100,000 toward sidewalk installation comes from the municipality's unassigned fund balance, $829,561 in surplus money that was the subject of a July public hearing for its use. Commissioners discussed several options, but the sidewalks mark the first specific designation.

At Monday's meeting, North Meadowcroft Avenue residents continued to pursue their case.

"It's something the street needs. It's needed it for many, many years," Stephen Teresi said. "I'm seeing, daily, people running stop signs on that street and people speeding through it."

Elizabeth Scanlon mentioned visibility problems for drivers on North Meadowcroft.

"Not having a sidewalk along that street is really putting children at enormous risk," she said.

Jennifer Brandenstein told commissioners she is the mother of two children in middle school and her youngest is a preschooler.

"It's my dream that she would have a safe walking route by the time she goes to goes to kindergarten," Ms. Brandenstein said.

Commissioner Kristen Linfante said she has been impressed by the unity of North Meadowcroft residents.

"I commend you," she said. "You set the example for this rest of this community."

neigh_south

Harry Funk, freelance writer: suburbanliving@post-gazette.com.


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