Windsor Heights Homeowners Win Battle Over Sidewalks

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WINDSOR HEIGHTS, Iowa -- Liz George doesn't live in the neighborhood where the city plans on building unwanted sidewalks, but she drives through it often. "I`m always having to stop a lot for people with their strollers and with their dogs and there`s dog walkers," said George. "You know, why is it up to me to stop when they`re walking through, by all these places where they have the 'no sidewalk' signs in their yards," she said.

But talk to the people who actually live in the affected area, and they speak with one voice: "It really has united republicans and democrats and liberals and conservatives," said Joan Christensen of Del Matro Avenue.

All you have to do is look around and you'll see that on nearly every yard there's a sign opposing the sidewalks.

"We`ve got a lot of other bigger fish to fry than sidewalks right now," said Frank DeBartolo of Del Matro Avenue. "We`ve been getting by for 50 or 60 years without sidewalks and I think we can get by for another 50 or 60 years without sidewalks. We need to take care of our streets. We need to take care of our infrastructure."

Frank's wife Jan agrees.

"That is my whole issue is the cost, and the fact that the neighbors all understand this and that we don`t want sidewalks ahead of fixing our streets," said Jan. "That`s everybody`s answer. When I go do a petition up and down the streets: fix our streets."

A petition opposing the sidewalk assessments for nearly 200 residents was signed by 95% of homeowners on Del Matro Avenue and 64th street, and 85% of homeowners on Northwest Drive. You can view that below.

Windsor Heights Petition Document

Iowa Code requires only 75% opposition to trigger a unanimous council vote.

"No matter what we say and how many people we stack the city council meetings up with and write, they do not listen to us, and they`ve riled and awoken the bear," said Christensen.

That bear has stopped the city from billing residents for the unwanted sidewalks.

The City Council was set to vote Monday night on the assessments, but the City Attorney advised that if affected property owners had over 75% opposition and then Council would have to vote unanimously to move the project forward with assessments.

So, the City Council elected to set a public hearing on the plans, specs and bids because they would like to know what the bids will come in at so they can weigh their options.  Bids are to be received on June 8th. The public hearing is set for June 19th.

The preliminary assessment costs and map are located here on the city's website.