Posted in: Quince Orchard Knolls Citizens
You guys should put a sidewalk in your neighbohood for walkers and bikers.
Gazzete Article

Mediators were invited to a public meeting last week where 70 Quince Orchard Knolls residents passionately debated the merits of installing sidewalks on the neighborhood?’s high-traffic streets.

Seventy-nine of 329 homes on Apricot Lane, Bunchberry Court, Bunchberry Lane, Cherry Grove Drive, Clover Knoll Road, Peach Leaf Drive, Peach Leaf Lane and Winesap Drive would be impacted by sidewalk installation, which has been explored since the summer. But not all residents want the walkways. Accusations of ?‘?‘menacing threats?” and misinformation have swirled around the community of single-family homes since the Quince Orchard Knolls Citizens Association announced plans for the sidewalks in October.

The North Potomac community, situated between Quince Orchard Road and Route 28, was built without storm drains or sidewalks around 1972, said Paul Morrison, a member of the association?’s Sidewalk Committee. In June, the association asked the county Department of Public Works and Transportation to install them.

The neighborhood, one-mile from Quince Orchard High School, had recently been reassessed by the school system as a zone in which students should walk to school and standing water in clogged drainage ditches raised health concerns.

So, for six months, Morrison?’s committee researched sidewalks, which they learned, could be installed on the county?’s dime, but only on one side of the street and in high-traffic areas.

Sidewalks would be at least four-feet wide, usurping portions of lawns, said Richard Earp, county sidewalk program manager.

In October, a newsletter informed residents that the county had agreed to provide sidewalks if the association wanted them. It described construction and planning processes, as well as impact to residents. By January, a groundswell of opposition surfaced.

Despite that, a tally of votes from 203 residents, including mail-in ballots, showed 156 residents want to explore the prospect further ?— versus 47 nays. A committee will evaluate the plan and make recommendations to the county for summer installation.

On Feb. 5, the evening of the vote, those who opposed and those who support the sidewalks were out in force at Quince Orchard High School. Citizens Association President Mary Lou Gundersen wanted to be prepared for the heated discussion and invited nonprofit mediators to facilitate.

Questions ran the gamut: Who would assume liability if someone slipped on ice and fell? Should the association fund snow removal?

Sidewalks could bring parking issues, said resident John Ziafat. His daughter Monica wanted assurances someone would shovel walks for the elderly and infirm ?– her husband could have a relapse of cancer.

Jean Mallon raised concern about increased tax assessments, which the county has said would not rise. Another resident said sidewalks could invite strangers and crime.

?‘?‘If you think this is not going to cost you, think again,?” Jean Mallon said at the meeting.

Sidewalks will not fix speed or improve drivers, several residents said. The association should explore speed and safety issues, residents urged.

?‘?‘I am very much in favor of sidewalks, said Nicholas DiPhillips, 17, who is legally blind and walks with a cane. ?‘?‘While people in the neighborhood are careful, all it takes is one careless driver and there is going to be an accident, either with myself or one of the children in the neighborhoods.?”

Some parents, like Laura Prentice, mother of four, said they were eager for the sidewalks to be installed.

?‘?‘When that fog was out there this morning I thought, ?‘Walk on the grass, son, because when cars fly through this neighborhood, they don?’t see you on a good day,?’?” she said. Prentice?’s home would have a sidewalk out front.

By Alex
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