[ back ]
Sidewalk survey skewered by opponents
Sidewalk survey skewered by opponents
By SUE REID
Solon Councilwoman Toni M. Richmond was questioned Monday by residents on Bainbridge Road regarding the partiality of the survey she conducted regarding sidewalks along the road.
Based on input from residents on Bainbridge Road and in the contiguous neighborhoods, Ms. Richmond gave her recommendation to City Council's public works committee recently that sidewalks should be on both sides of the road.
Ms. Richmond, who represents Ward 3, where the sidewalks would be located, began her efforts this summer to poll every resident in the affected area, going door to door to 150 homes and leaving surveys for those who were not home. The decisions to be made, which ultimately lie with the city, are whether to put sidewalks on Bainbridge Road, east of Liberty Road, and whether it should be done in just certain sections.
Overall, including the contiguous neighborhoods, a little over 74 percent of residents wanted sidewalks, Ms. Richmond said of her survey.
Bainbridge Road resident Sandy Kay said she doesn't think the poll was done in an objective manner. "Ms. Richmond openly and repeatedly stated her desire for sidewalks," she said. "It was not an impartially administered poll."
When the Thornbury subdivision was built, Ms. Kay said, "I was not consulted whether they needed sidewalks." She asked why then were Thornbury residents consulted regarding sidewalks on Bainbridge Road.
Ms. Richmond said Tuesday that she stands by her position that contiguous neighborhoods, as well as Bainbridge Road residents, should be polled regarding sidewalks. "I always believed that sidewalks are there for the benefit of the community, not just the benefit of the individuals where the sidewalks would cross in front of their houses," she said. "Sidewalks are for the benefit of the community at large."
Ms. Kay said she does not object to sidewalks in theory, "but I object to the reality of what someone thinks we should look like." She said the road will have 5 feet of bike lanes. "Why can't people walk on those?" she asked.
"We have lost so much on this street," Ms. Kay said. "Now you want to pave over more green space. Whatever for?"
Bainbridge Road resident John Nolan said, while he appreciates Ms. Richmond's efforts to poll residents, he questions her duty to "persuade residents."
"How much of the landslide represented true feelings of residents vs. her ability to persuade?" Mr. Nolan asked.
Ms. Kay said residents were told that, if they did not agree to sidewalks now, they would be assessed for their cost later on.
Ms. Richmond said, if people asked her about the cost, she gave them the information, but, for the most part, they had the information. "I give them credit for being intelligent adults," she said. "It's too bad those individuals who spoke didn't give the same credit to those they said I had to persuade one way or another. You either know or you don't know," she said.
"The numbers speak for themselves," Ms. Richmond said. "I talked to people. I did not try to persuade them."
If anyone wanted to accompany her on her walk, they could have, she said. "If they thought I was going to be dishonest, they could have done that. I did what I said I was going to do. I went to every single door and knocked on them. I didn't have to twist anyone's arms.
"If people had questions, I answered them," Ms. Richmond said. "Part of my job is to talk to people and get them the information.
"I broke the data down by every neighborhood, by every street in those neighborhoods that I polled," she said. "The most important information that came from that was that there were more people on Bainbridge that wanted sidewalks than did not. If you factor in the other neighborhoods, of course it was a landslide."
Ms. Richmond said residents in contiguous neighborhoods like Thornbury, Creekside and Windy Hill in favor of sidewalks said they want the ability to be able to connect to town. "They said they wanted them so that they would feel safe letting their children walk to town," she said.
Mr. Nolan said Solon has ward veto power to prevent the rest of the city not affected by zoning changes to override those who are affected. That was not the way Ms. Richmond's survey was done, he said.
"The only real lesson, whether you prefer the landslide version or my version, is that numbers and spreadsheets can't decide and own the decision," he said. "Council has to decide," Mr. Nolan said. "There will be no spreadsheets to take the blame at election time."
[ back ]