Naperville scales back sidewalk gap-filling plan

Working through budget cuts and facing the possibility of a property tax increase, Naperville has decided to scale back the number of sidewalks it will add to fill gaps next year.

The three gaps still to be filled for $75,000 are along Chicago Avenue and Julian Street, Eagle Street and Loomis Street. They were chosen for their importance on student walk-to-school routes, along with other safety factors, city staff members said.

The scaled-back sidewalk work will help the city save $80,000 from a plan to close sidewalk gaps in five locations that originally would have cost $155,000.

"We're in a budgetary crisis as we're looking to raise taxes," city council member Paul Hinterlong said during a meeting earlier this month. "I feel this is somewhere where we can cut."

It's not a year to spend on "nice-to-haves," city council member Rebecca Boyd-Obarski said.

So she and the rest of the council voted unanimously to slim down the sidewalk paving plan for 2018. Gaps that will not be filled next year are along Willow Road from Hillside Road to Maple Lane and on Book Road from Douglas to Leverenz roads.

Areas where new sidewalks will be added will help students have sidewalks on both sides of the street as they walk to school, said Jennifer Louden, deputy director of transportation, engineering and development. Locations include:

• The north side of Chicago Avenue from Julian Street to 300 feet past Huffman Street.

• The east side of Eagle Street from Franklin to Douglas avenues.

• The east side of Loomis Street from Porter to Prairie avenues.

Although city council member Judith Brodhead joined the rest on the panel in supporting the $75,000 spending plan instead of the full $155,000 option, she said the city needs to provide safe walkways.

This should remain important, she said, even as officials work to cut spending to fill a gap originally projected at $5 million in next year's budget. The city council's next budget workshop is at 6 p.m. Monday in the municipal center at 400 S. Eagle St.

"Even though we may have some budget crunch issues, this is an important service that the city provides for its residents," Brodhead said. "I think this is a good use of our tax dollars."

  This sidewalk gap along Chicago Avenue from Julian Street extends to 300 feet east of Huffman Street, and it will be filled next year by the city of Naperville. The work is part of a $75,000 scaled-back sidewalk gap-filling plan approved by the city council. Mark Black/
  Where the sidewalk ends along Chicago Avenue at Julian Street will be paved next year as the city of Naperville spends $75,000 to fill sidewalk gaps. The work has been scaled back from an originally proposed $155,000 plan. Mark Black/
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