By Skyler Ashley
Bath-DeWitt Connection Staff Reporter
DEWITT — During a meeting on Oct. 13, the DeWitt City Council approved an initiative to improve several sections of sidewalk across town.
The six locations marked for improvement were determined to not meet ADA standards, which cities are expected and required to meet under federal law to allow for easy access by the disabled.
DeWitt City Administrator Daniel Coss outlined the plan concisely.
“The project did get approved, Moffitt was awarded the contract and construction should begin within the next week or so.” Coss said.
Moffitt is a construction company local to DeWitt and the cost of their employment is expected to range around the $10,000 mark.
“These six locations are either dead-end sidewalks, they just stop and don’t go anywhere, or they are sidewalks we are updating to meet handicap accessibility requirements,” Coss said.
For small towns like DeWitt, quality sidewalks can be an important factor for local residents. Based on the findings of research experts, the move to improve sidewalks could play out to be a wise one.
“For streetscapes to be inviting to pedestrians, they must be safe and be perceived as safe.” Michigan State University Associate Professor Igor Vojnovic said.
Vojnovic’s research focuses on urban development and redevelopment processes, similar to the sidewalk improvement motion approved by the DeWitt City Council.
Vojnovic found that:
“Many Michigan cities either have or are updating their plans to increase physical activity. Elements of these plans that promote physical activity include: modifying or changing zoning to promote appropriate mixed land use, improving and expanding the city pathway system for walking, including sidewalks and destinations like parks with all new developments and improving walkability aesthetics.”
Despite the city working to improve the sidewalks, some citizens haven’t noticed the issue in the first place.
When asked if there were any problems with the sidewalks in DeWitt, Twiggie’s owner Beth Herendeen responded with a simple “no.”
“There’s no problems, not that I’ve ever noticed. If it’s all in the budget [sidewalk improvement], I’m all right with that.” Herendeen said.
Local resident David Oswald was in agreement with Herendeen’s positive assessment.
Oswald is familiar with the DeWitt landscape and was jogging just moments before providing a comment.
“I think the sidewalks are fine, they even just installed some at the complex I’m living in. I haven’t found any [sidewalks] that are that bad,” Oswald said.