New sidewalks to improve walkability in Mason

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A car approaches the intersection of Kipp Road and Barnes Street, where the Mason City Council recently approved plans to build new sidewalks. The Mason High School football stadium overlooks the site for the plans, which are restricted to the east side of Barnes Street.

In rural areas, walking is a mode of transportation that can often be overlooked. In the City of Mason, public officials have taken notice and are taking action to improve walkability in the city.

Last week, The Mason City Council approved the extension of an existing sidewalk on Barnes Street in front of Mason High School on Feb. 21. This is part of a bigger initiative, Councilmember Leon Clark said. 

“We’re big on connecting, keeping all of our neighborhoods connected and giving people the opportunity to be able to walk from anywhere in town to any other site in town. Our focus is to try to make the community as walkable as it possibly can be, and any place where we can put a sidewalk to connect them we will,” said Clark. 

A steep bank can be seen through a barbed wire fence that runs along the west side of Barnes Street. Because of these safety issues, the city council made it clear that a sidewalk would not be built along the west side of the street.

Although the original plan was to build a sidewalk along the west side of Barnes in addition to extending the existing sidewalk on the east side of the street, some citizens voiced safety concerns. 

John Fisher, owner of J&J Properties on Kipp Road, had a few things to say about the plans. 

“I have some concerns about running a sidewalk on the west side of Barnes Street down to Kipp Road; that gravel pit has some pretty steep banks,” said Fisher, “It’s not really feasible to get [a sidewalk] in there unless they’re planning on narrowing the road.”

Existing sidewalk runs along the east side of Barnes Street in front of Mason High School, stopping after the high school parking lot.

For feasibility and safety, the council restricted the project to the east side of the street. According to Mason Schools Superintendent Ronald Drzewicki, this will allow students to cross safely without being exposed to the steep dropoff on the west side of Barnes Street. 

“It would actually potentially add safety for people that were walking, not that there’s many right now,” said Drzewicki. “It would provide them a safe walking path connecting into other sidewalks in the city, plus the high school.”

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