Willow Springs Sidewalk Project

The Willow Springs Sidewalk Committee has been actively researching the possibility of implementing sidewalks in our neighborhood.  This is a page with information and links to various documents created along the way.

Status Update:  November 9th, 2015.  Survey Response Communication.

The following question was asked of every homeowner in Willow Springs:

If I were satisfied with the overall project costs, liability risks, and re-landscaping plan, I would be willing to contribute up to $120/year, for up to 20 years (not to exceed $2,400), to fund sidewalks within the public right-of-way at these locations:

·along the inside of Roxburgh Drive;
·the East side of Roxburgh Drive - from Old Alabama Road to Roxburgh Drive;
·the West side of Ascot Lane
·and the West side of Haynes Crossing

  • 401-Total number of respondents, 253 Yes/148 No or 63% in favor
  • 388-Total number of HOA respondents, 246 Yes/142 No or 64% in favor
  • 13-Total number Non-HOA respondents, 7 Yes/6 No or 54% in favor
  • 69-Total number of "affected" respondents, 38 Yes/31 No or 55% in favor

We presented this question in order to determine the degree of consensus in the neighborhood for citizen funded sidewalks in Willow Springs, and whether to invest any more time and effort on this project. Based on these results it appears almost 2 out of 3 of our respondents could support a sidewalk project if given more answers. Therefore, with this degree of support, we will continue to work with the city and our homeowners to see if we can do just that, come up with more answers and try to develop a plan that pleases the Roswell City Council, the homeowners of Willow Springs and especially any homeowners whose lot could be affected by a sidewalk.

Sidewalk Project - Initial Steps:

Links to Sidewalk Related Materials
Intro from Jeff Jablonski at Sidewalk Town Hall 9/24

Audio Recording of Sidewalk Town Hall 9/24

Opposition Notes of Sidewalk Town Hall 9/24
Document from Gary Mitchell 
WS Sidewalk additional cost tyo HOA members.pdf
Willow Springs Notes for Sidewalk meeting, Sept, 24th, 2015 .pdf

Additional Documents:

Introduction from Jeff Jablonski, Chairman of the Sidewalks Committee

We live in Roswell for the quality of life our city has to offer. In fact, without some of the industry, arenas, and offices our neighboring cities have, a great quality of life is one of the best things Roswell can offer. Roswell is a city people come home to. However, we want to be able to come home and safely walk on our streets and interact with our neighbors. After all, pedestrian safety adds to our quality of life.

Decades ago when many Roswell neighborhoods were developed, when texting drivers didn’t exist and traffic counts on our residential through streets weren’t even close to what they are now, sidewalks were viewed as something urban; something people moved to the suburbs to get away from. Now sidewalks are required on every new road in Roswell and are something that most Atlanta area home buyers are looking for in their suburban home. So what happens to those neighborhoods that were built without sidewalks? Do they simply become a relic to what was desired decades ago while the quality of life of our neighboring city’s pass us by?

While some of our long-time residents may not benefit now, more of our seniors are deciding to “retire in place” and we can’t count on using our cars forever. We need to make our neighborhoods attractive to people of all ages, abilities and disabilities including those that currently live here and those that will in the future. We shouldn’t have to take our cars to safely get to a local park or our neighbor’s house a few houses away, thereby further adding to the problem. We cannot continue to “kick the can” and look the other way when we hear of near accidents. Absence of an accident does not equal absence of risk, it just means we’ve been very lucky so far. If our city wants to attract the next generation of homebuyers and not be left behind, we need to make our neighborhoods more walkable through creative methods.

If you ask some in City Hall, they will downplay the need for sidewalks in older Roswell neighborhoods in spite of ample resident testimony of close calls and evidence of wayward drivers (struck fire hydrants, signs, mailboxes). They say, sidewalks are simply too expensive, too difficult to install and may be unpopular to retrofit in someone’s front yard (even though the area in which a sidewalk would lay is likely city owned public right-of-way).

So what do we do? City Hall suggests the use of encumbrances in the streets to “calm” traffic and reduce vehicle speeds, but the speed of a vehicle is irrelevant when we are forced to be feet away from a texting driver. Also, it doesn’t confront the root of the problem-these devices only “calm” in the vicinity of the device. Turning our streets into a maze to slow cars down effectively reduces the size of the roadway and puts pedestrians further at risk and they are not very attractive, therefore, unlike sidewalks, they have proven to be unpopular. In reality, safety is simply about space from vehicles, not the speed of them.

In theory, Roswell does retrofit sidewalks on some city streets but at a rate that will take hundreds of years to meet the current need at the current budget. The city prioritizes sidewalks projects based on connectivity to other sidewalks or schools, but not every neighborhood is so fortunate to be walking distance to a school. In fact, residential sidewalks are rarely (never) considered even though the vehicle to pedestrian ratio is likely greater than on some of our main thoroughfares. Connectivity is a luxury if our residents want it, safety is a need.

Therefore, to acquire sidewalks in our neighborhoods, we could lobby our city leaders for priority funding thereby asking them to choose one city project over another (something politicians do not like to do) OR our city can draft a policy that allows us to fix our own problems, with a solution that will not cost the city any money (something politicians love!) and will not force tax payers on one side of the city to pay for a project that has little or no benefit to them. Give communities the tools and let them decide if they want sidewalks bad enough to self-fund them.  After all who would know better?

Cities around the country, including some local suburbs, have embraced the idea of community funded local infrastructure improvements. Some cities have decided to install sidewalks in areas where most residents don’t even want them because they want to attract the next generation of homebuyers; they feel it is the right thing to do for the future of their cities. Now that is leadership. We need our city leaders to make some tough decisions. The expense, inconvenience, and overall change will not be popular with some, but opposition to a sidewalk should be given less weight than the underlying need for a sidewalk.

The choice is clear. We can continue to take the easy way out by stuffing our streets with encumbrances, hoping that squeezing cars and people into an even smaller space doesn’t create an accident or we can create a residential sidewalk policy. We can protect the current and future generations of Roswell residents while simultaneously improving our quality of life. 

Our current approach to street safety is to react after a tragic accident. A considerably better approach is to identify our risks and mitigate them before that tragic accident happens.

Sidewalks need not be monuments to dead people.

Sidewalk Cost Information

We are estimating sidewalks to cost $100,000 per 1,000 feet. Some think that is a low estimate. To put into perspective, the turn lane on Old Alabama Road just outside our neighborhood required right-of-way acquisition, an additional traffic lane, new curb and gutter, sod and 410 feet of sidewalk, all for $120,000. Perhaps our estimate is overly conservative?”

Dunwoody just completed this residential sidewalk project in a neighborhood very similar to ours on Mt. Vernon Way with buried utilities. 4,000 feet of new sidewalk originally budgeted for $350,000, it was completed for $210,000 or $53,000 per 1,000 feet.”

Here is one of many examples of what other cities do to fund new sidewalks. It is not a perfect plan as it t looks like they assess just those abutting the sidewalks, something we don’t support. We feel all of the community would receive the benefit, so all should pay