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Yorkville City Council rejects sidewalk program; concerns over installing walkways on vacant lots near school cited

The Yorkville City Council voted 4-3 Tuesday evening, April 27, to reject the city’s proposed sidewalk program for this year with some alderman voicing objections to a proposal to install sidewalks on vacant lots along Prairie Grass Lane near Autumn Creek Elementary School in the Prairie Meadows subdivision.

Aldermen said installing the $50,000 worth of sidewalks adjoining Prairie Grass Lane, a street traveled by many students, buses and cars on school days, would set a precedent for adding sidewalks along other vacant lots in the city.

Under the program, sidewalks extending from Autumn Creek Elementary School west to the intersection of Prairie Grass Lane and Hayden Drive would have been installed.

“I’ve been in Prairie Meadows now for 14 years and I have yet to see anybody get hit by a car,” said Alderman Seaver Tarulis, who voted against the program. Tarulis lives a block and a half from where the construction would have taken place.

“It doesn’t go very far toward resolving the problem that we have and that is 46 lots without sidewalks that cause people to walk in the street,” he said.

Joining Tarulis in casting no votes on the motion to approve the sidewalk program were Aldermen Chris Funkhouser, Ken Koch and Dan Transier. Aldermen Joel Frieders, Jason Peterson and Arden Plocher cast positive votes on the motion. With Alderman Jackie Milschewski absent from the meeting, the measure was denied a potential tie-breaking vote by Mayor John Purcell.

Purcell and other aldermen stressed that young students going to and from school often have to cut into the road to navigate the undeveloped walkways, adding a safety concern that city officials have wanted to address for years.

“The city has tried to complete sidewalks that go to schools and I agree, there’s 40 or something lots that aren’t finished there,” Purcell said of the neighborhood adjoining Autumn Creek Elementary School. “But there’s a lot of bus traffic and there’s a lot of car traffic on that little section there so that’s why this was suggested.”

Dissenting aldermen also noted that the city would have no way to collect sidewalk installation fees from future homeowners who might one day live on the undeveloped lots, per city documents. The rejected sidewalk program would have also improved walkways along Appletree Court, Beecher Center, downtown and East Center at a price tag $298,000, though aldermen didn’t publicly object to any of other improvements.

The city council did overwhelming vote to approve other road improvements measures during Tuesday night’s meeting. The passed improvements include Autumn Creek Blvd, Corneils Road and Wing Road, in addition to a design agreement for resurfacing of Bristol Ridge Road and an engineering agreement for reconstructing Mill Road. Purcell said the city is expected to spend about $3 million on road improvements in the next fiscal year.

Source: The Daily Chronicle

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