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Passions Flare at Public Hearing on Sidewalk Improvement Project

WINDSOR HEIGHTS, Iowa -- Passions flared tonight in Windsor Heights as people on both sides of the sidewalks debate made their views known at the city council meeting. The sidewalks issue has created controversy since day one, even pitting neighbor against neighbor.

People who support the sidewalks say they improve safety and are a good investment for the community. Those opposed say they're unnecessary and the city should spend the money on other things, like fixing the streets.

"Everyone needs to have a reasonable access to get around safely and without sidewalks, we don't have that," said Shelley Skuster of Forest Court. "As a newer resident, I seriously cannot believe that this is even a debate," said Skuster. "At what point, this is my question for people who oppose sidewalks, at what point are we willing to invest in spending a penny for the safety of people and pedestrians in Windsor Heights?"

"...As you can see, I am a disabled, handicapped individual," responded Chris White of Sunrise Boulevard. "I feel just (as) safe as I need to feel whenever I go out to walk," said White. "I live on a street that has no sidewalk. We've never had a sidewalk. I've lived here for 45 years, we've never missed not having a sidewalk. "

Ultimately, the city is moving forward with the sidewalks, despite lots of opposition to the project. On Monday Night, the city council voted to reduce the project by eliminating the sidewalk improvements to Northwest Drive, saving nearly $130 ,000, and to not add the alternate of sod and intakes. It was the recommendation of the City Administrator that Council approve that option (#3), and thus reduce the amount of the contract to Kingston Services of Des Moines to just over $900,000. The bid for the project, which includes adding sidewalks to Del Matro Ave, 64th and 63rd streets, had come in at over a $1,000,000.