Members of the administration and City Council have been studying the results and recommendations of the Alternative Transportation Study that was completed last year. The plan analyzed existing conditions and provide short and long term recommendations, including feasibility studies and implementation strategies. The plan encourages complete and green streets, and activities that promote sustainable development and several modes of transportation. These activities include development plans that are transit-oriented; land use and transportation plans for redevelopment; pedestrian and bicycle network plans; traffic calming plans for neighborhoods and economic development plans that are based upon the investment in transportation.
According to the final report, “one of the two goals listed in the transportation chapter of the recent Master Plan Update is to provide options for alternative transportation modes. In the town center area, this goal is particularly relevant in order to foster a traditional Main Street atmosphere, with destinations for people to shop, dine, and recreate. The critical step to achieving this vision is to provide the infrastructure to ensure the safety of these alternative modes, such as walking, bicycling, and public transit. An inventory of sidewalks took place for all roads that were located within the Town Center Area, as well as all major roads throughout the city.” According to its calculation, in the Town Center District, 53% of the area has sidewalks, 3% has partial sidewalks and 44% remains incomplete. In the remaining portion of the city, 12% has sidewalks, 7% has partial sidewalks and 81% is incomplete.
According to the study, “while just over half of the town center has sidewalks, the remainder of the city lacks adequate sidewalk connections. . . To cultivate the town center and increase access to its destinations and amenities, it is important to focus on creating a sidewalk network that enables connections in and around the district. Based on the existing conditions analysis and public input from the survey and public meeting, a list of prioritized sidewalk connections was developed. The connections, taken as a whole, would greatly increase connectivity to and within the town center and between residential areas, and would enhance recreational opportunities in proximity to the Valley Parkway multi use path.” Seventeen areas were recommended to have sidewalks installed, many on stretches of State, Royalton and York Roads.
Although the topic of sidewalks is not new to City Council, the report findings are being discussed at recent Council Streets Committee meetings. While most agree that sidewalks can be beneficial in some areas, the matter of cost weighs heavily on the actual installation. While city coffers cannot support the recommended installation, it becomes the responsibility of the property owner to subsidize any sidewalk installation. “We have been going back and forth on this for a long time,” said Council President Larry Antoskiewicz. “If you think you have an area that needs to be addressed, you need to go out into your ward and talk to your residents,” he told Council. Antoskiewicz noted that when a potential assessment is involved, Council must talk to the resident first.
Ward 3 Councilman Dan Langshaw and Ward 4 Councilman Paul Marnecheck recently offered a survey to their residents to that end. Langshaw said that 68 residents responded. “It wasn’t the most scientific, but it helped gage the opinion,” he said. Marnecheck said 114 residents participated in his survey. He said that he felt the survey was less intrusive than going door-to-door. Both Councilmen concluded that unless grant money became available, the residents did not support the sidewalk installation.
North Royalton residents will see some of the suggested connectivity that the study recommends. The Metroparks have announced the installation of the all-purpose trail that is set to be completed next year. In addition, the city is in the process of trying to connect to Valley Parkway on Ridge Road. Mayor Bob Stefanik has petitioned First Energy to install sidewalks on their property that is located between Willow Lake and the Turnpike overpass. The remaining section of Ridge Road is owned by the Metroparks. That section would then connect Ridge Road to Valley Parkway.
Council recently passed legislation that authorized the Mayor to submit two applications to the NOACA through the Transportation for Livable Communities Initiative. The first application states that the city would agree to perform in-kind work on the storm water sewer at a cost of $41,500 in materials for a $108,900 grant. The second application states that the city would agree to provide a cash match of $14,520 for a $72,600 grant. The first grant would cover the cost of sidewalks from City Hall, north to Royalton Road. The second grant would address sidewalks on Akins, north to Royalton Road. The grant was due at the end of January. Stefanik hopes to hear by April if the grant is approved.
In addition, the widening of Rt. 82, from West 130th Street to York Road, although not set to begin until 2018, will include the installation of sidewalks. Future phases of the Rt. 82 widening are also set to include sidewalks. The installation of sidewalks on road projects will be discussed as part of the project in the future.
Stefanik noted that the study “is a tool that we can use to get funding,” as utilized when seeking the funding for State Road. With the study, “we have the reasoning to have the sidewalks.”

Contributing Writer