Parents Fight for Addition of Sidewalks Near Johnston Middle School

JOHNSTON, Iowa  --  After the death of a teenage boy, parents took their request for more sidewalks to the Johnston City Council.

Ali Hashim, 13, died one week ago after being hit at the intersection of 66th Street and Merle Hay Road. The crash is still under investigation, but at least one parent says it could have been prevented.

They believe the problem is a lack of sidewalks along Merle Hay, as they are currently only installed on one side of the road from North Glenn to 62nd and are not on the side students tend to walk or pedal when going to and from school or the library.

"Like I addressed the council, my daughter, when she was in middle school the last few years, she would walk along the Pioneer property line because she didn't feel safe walking along Merle Hay and there was no direct path on the west side of Merle Hay linking Johnston Commons, the public library, with the middle school," said Alex Venter of Johnston.

Venter compiled this information and presented it to the city council, speaking about the need for sidewalks in the area.

"I don't know how you change people's habits, other than to make it clear and apparent that there is a safe way to get from that point to where they want to go without having to cross outside of the sidewalk," he said.

The council did not take any action on Tuesday night, but did discuss sidewalks during a work session on Tuesday afternoon.