Oregon City Council is poised to rectify the long-standing problem of a lack of sidewalks along Navarre Avenue.
Members during a meeting last week expressed their unanimous support for installing sidewalks on the north side of Navarre between Coy and Lallendorf roads, much to the satisfaction of several residents who have been lobbying for the improvement for years.
They voiced support at a meeting of council's drainage, roads, buildings, and lands committee, which approved sending the matter to the full council for more discussion and action.
The issue has been simmering for years. Last summer, residents of the Fountain Square Apartments, 3119 Navarre, organized demonstrations to protest the lack of sidewalks along the busy commercial corridor. The apartment building has many elderly and disabled residents.
Anna Shank said last week that she had to drive her motorized wheelchair in the street because of the lack of sidewalks.
Dave Dayton, the junior warden at St. Paul's Episcopal Church at Coy and Navarre, said he had observed the difficulty the lack of sidewalks posed and urged council to act.
The city estimates the cost of installing five-foot-wide sidewalks along the one-mile stretch to be $112,000, which would be assessed to property owners. The city is committed to paying the $24,000 cost of related drainage work.
Tom Susor, council president and a committee member, said he wanted to give property owners a break by having the city also pick up half of the cost of the sidewalk installation. This was justified, he believed, because this part of Navarre is the heart of the business district, which the city wants to promote and improve.
"If we're going to have a business center, and have a city that is progressive, at some point we're going to have to start behaving like one," he said.
Mr. Susor earned applause from the audience when he described the lack of sidewalks as a public safety issue and said installing them would "send a good message to businesses."
Petition circulators submitted two petitions to the city requesting installation of the sidewalks, one from Coy east to the western property line of Walmart, and the other from the east property line of Walmart to Lallendorf. The first petition collected signatures from 73 percent of property owners and the second, 44 percent. Council has the authority to order the installation if property owners to the east of Walmart continue to balk.
-- Carl Ryan