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Wanted: A solution — and a way to pay for it

February 3, 2008
There’s a controversial issue brewing at the Marshalltown City Hall.

Marshalltown is lacking in sidewalks. That’s not the issue.

The issue is how to rectify the situation in a cost-effective, fairly quick and palatable way for the community and taxpayers.

This didn’t become an issue overnight — and it certainly can’t be solved overnight either.

We don’t profess to have all the answers, but here’s an idea we think most people could swallow:

The city should begin by addressing the sidewalks nearest to our schools. Rather than try to tackle such a huge number of sidewalks in one year, get the basics handled first, then build upon that accomplishment each year over the next decade or so.

Sure, it’s a long time, but also a more feasible schedule for ensuring the project stays on track and gets accomplished in the long run.

The second issue, how to pay for all that concrete, isn’t as easily solved.

Why not tie the cost of new sidewalks to the sale of a home. When a property owner decides to sell their house, if they don’t already have sidewalks in place, they would be required to be installed.

As for the more immediate need of sidewalks around our schools we would suggest the city foot the bill for those projects with reimbursement coming when the property is sold.

What’s that you say? The city can’t afford to undertake such a costly project?

Neither can many of the residents who are being faced with that very possibility under the current sidewalk proposal.

Regardless of how the city proceeds on the sidewalk issue, we ask the council members to keep a few important issues we’ve brought up as they make their decision:

• The most important part of the plan is to get sidewalks installed around and near our schools sooner than later.

• Since the lack of sidewalks didn’t happen overnight, neither can we expect to correct the issue overnight.

• Tying the sidewalks to the sale of the property is a good way to forge a compromise between those who want sidewalks and those who can’t afford them.

The city needs to carefully study this issue and strike a balance between a desire for more sidewalks and the financial well-being of Marshalltown’s residents.



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