Letters to the Editor
(Editor's note: the following letter was sent to city council and school board members Monday, as well as the Signal. The writer agreed that it could be used as a letter to the editor.)
I am writing to all of you in hopes that one of you might take this question and run with it!
How important are the children of our community to you? This may seem like an unfair question, but in the positions you hold, you have the ability, and more importantly, the responsibility to address this question.
To the school board members: Why do we not offer bussing to the students within the city limits since we all know there are minimal sidewalks for the children to use?
To the City Council members (whose addresses I could find): Why do we not have sidewalks for all to use, especially the little ones walking to and from school since bussing is not available?
Baldwin City is growing at a rapid pace. Are we addressing all areas of growth as we should? There are many more cars, there are many more "young" drivers, and there are many more little ones walking in the streets to and from school since there are no sidewalks. One day, this will prove to be a devastating mix. Granted, this question should have been addressed long ago, but obviously it has not been. Or, possibly, it was never "important" enough. You could work together and change that. Will you choose to be proactive regarding this matter or will you choose to be reactive?
Please think long and hard if you choose the latter.
So, I ask you again; how important are the children of our community to you?
Thank you for your time and I sincerely hope that you think long and hard as to the "importance" of my question.
(Editor's note: The following letter was sent from City Administrator Jeff Dingman to answer Pattie Shay's concerns about sidewalks.)
In addition to the Mayor's comments regarding the City Council's interest in hearing concerns from the public at its regular meetings, I would like to offer the following specifically in response to your inquiry.
The City has applied for, and the school district is supporting, a grant for improving our sidewalks. The program is a brand-new (in 2006), Federally funded program administered through the Kansas Department of Transportation, and it is called the "Safe Routes to School" program. The purpose of this program is to encourage kids to walk or ride bicycles to school, and make it safe for them to do so. We submitted an application for Phase I funding on August 25 (I just called them, they are a few weeks away from making any awards yet). The purpose of Phase I is to gather information from the schools and the citizens about particular problem areas that need sidewalks, need sidewalk improvements, need crosswalks or other traffic controls, or even if we need crossing guards in certain areas at certain times.
Phase I funding could afford us up to $15,000 for this information gathering process, which we would then use to put together a plan for a Phase II application in the spring. If/when we receive notification that we've been awarding Phase I funding, we will proceed with public meetings at which interested people such as yourself might express their ideas on how to solve particular issues.
Phase II funding can pay for sidewalks up to 2 miles away from a school building that has children in grades K-8. This covers basically all of our city limits. Phase II funding is 100% reimbursable by the federal grant, up to $250,000 per year. If, theoretically, we identified lots of areas that needed sidewalks or sidewalk improvements and submitted a successful application, we could get grant money to pay for many sidewalk upgrades in our city without a specific tax increase or improvement benefit district to do so.
Regardless, sidewalks in our city are deficient. There is not a safe way to completely transverse our city by sidewalk or walking path, and that is a problem we are trying to address. We can reapply for this grant year after year, which we will attempt to do whether successful this year or not. If this plan is not successful in securing grant funding, please be assured that we will try other methods to resolve the issue of sidewalks in Baldwin City.
Please contact me at any time with further questions or if you have specific suggestions.