By Philip Taylor
Sidewalks are the cornerstone of a vibrant, cohesive and equitable community. They connect neighbors and provide a vital link to places like parks, schools, grocery stores and bus stops.
For those who are pushing a stroller, disabled or without a car, sidewalks keep us safe from deadly encounters with traffic. Yet Denver currently has 300 miles of roads with no sidewalks and 830 miles of sidewalks that are too narrow to fit a couple walking side-by-side or a person in a wheelchair.
That’s why I am voting “yes” on Initiated Ordinance 307, a measure on this year’s Denver ballot that would fix the city’s crumbling and missing sidewalks by creating a new funding stream for sidewalk repair, construction and maintenance.
Under current law, Denver property owners are responsible for building and maintaining sidewalks on their land. Replacing a sidewalk on an average-sized residential lot can cost as much as $5,000-$6,000, according to an industry estimate reported by The Denver Post. If passed, Ordinance 307 would establish a modest annual fee for property owners based on the length of sidewalk that runs through their lot. In exchange, homeowners would no longer be on the hook for pricy sidewalk repairs or replacements. The new fee would be similar to the annual fee property owners already pay to maintain our stormwater system, like stormwater pipes, sidewalks are a public asset that are shared by everyone.
I shouldn’t be responsible for fixing a busted stormwater pipe in front of my home, nor should I have to pay to fix a sidewalk — because it’s not my sidewalk. Ordinance 307 is an insurance policy against this potentially major cost.
Ordinance 307 is a critical step to making North Denver a safer place to live and play. Our neighborhoods – from Jefferson Park to Regis – are plagued by cracked, narrow and missing sidewalks. Too many North Denver destinations – from the recently renovated Inspiration Point Park to the U.S. Postal Service at 46th Avenue and Pecos Street – are currently inaccessible to pedestrians because they lack safe sidewalks leading to them. Ordinance 307, while not perfect, would go a long way towards fixing this.
Philip Taylor is a Regis neighborhood resident