More than half of the 481 residents who answered a recent South Windsor survey said that they’d like to be able to walk to places in town in lieu of driving.
About 10 percent of those said that providing sidewalks should be the highest priority.
Yet, when it comes to who should be responsible to clearing the sidewalks that abut private property during inclement weather, few wanted to the liability, with some saying that they were concerned for those residents who are physically unable to perform the sort of backbreaking work required to remove heavy snow and slush from the walkways, according to the town Sidewalk & Bikeways Committee.
"When it comes time to install a sidewalk in front of an individual's house the town is met with opposition," Town Council member Kevin McCann said.
A recent example of what McCann refers to as a "dichotomy," is the positive community reaction the committee received when it met to discuss improvements to Hayes Road. "All but one expressed a desire to have a sidewalk, but no one wanted it in front of their own house," he said.
"Everyone wanted it across the street, in front of their neighbor's house. No one wanted to take on the added responsibility that comes with a sidewalk," he said. In the end, improvements were completed on Hayes Road without sidewalks.
Town Council member Saud Anwar's creative solution is something he hopes will peak the public's interest and win the endorsement of the Town; a "Snow Angels" program.
Proposing that a small group of resident volunteers would sign up to be responsible for someone else's sidewalk after a storm, Anwar said in a recent South Windsor Patch Local Voices blog that the "South Windsor Human Services Department could help coordinate volunteers who could take-on this task during inclement weather. For persons 75 years or older, those with physical disabilities, those who have handicap parking permits and those who do not have other healthy family members in their homes, the town volunteers may be able to help with snow removal."
"If we can provide a safety net for residents who are challenged to meet their responsibility for snow removal, perhaps we can reduce some remaining resistance to the effort to expand sidewalks in Town," said McCann.
A revised sidewalk map, which depicts high, medium and low priority sidewalks areas, was released in June and has been posted in several places around town for residents to view.
"The map identifies roadways for installation of sidewalks and recommends priorities for construction," McCann said. "We have requested public comment, but have received very little feedback," he lamented.
The Sidewalks & Bikeways Committee meets the second Tuesday of every month at 7:15 p.m. in the Sprenkle Room at Town Hall.