Additional Sidewalks in Township to be Considered
Sidewalks a key feature in increasing student safety, according to Safe Routes to School Committee.
After Laura Ali Nonnenmacher is sworn in as the new committee member for Chatham Township and other regular business has been dealt with, Committee Member Kathy Abbott will discuss the costs and potential effects in adding sidewalks near schools.
Along with the Safe Routes to School Committee, which is made up of about 15 parents from the Chathams, Abbott has helped prepare most of the requirements for a grant through Safe Routes to School.
"The township has to pay for the 'soft costs' of the grant preparation, such as engineering, in order to win federal Safe Routes to School funds," Abbott said. The funds could go toward enhancements to pedestrian safety, "such as sidewalks and pedestrian-activated flashers," Abbott said.
The committee and TransOptions, a non-profit organization which promotes transportation alternatives to driving, have spent this academic year conducting surveys, collecting data and studying the reasons why students do not walk or bike to school.
During Walk and Bike to School Week in April, the organizations offered maps with recommended walking and biking paths to each of the six schools in the School District of the Chathams. Schools offered incentives and activities for students who walked to school.
"In Chatham Township, there is a particular need for this Safe Routes to School grant, since we have three schools, holding 2,269 children, within a one-mile radius and with very few sidewalks," Abbott said.
Streets which will be addressed specifically during the meeting are:
- Lafayette Avenue
- Longwood Avenue
- Spring Street
- Dellwood Avenue
- Dale Drive
- School Avenue
- Hampton Road
- Shunpike Road
For Abbott, "the benefits—monetary as well as health, safety, traffic reduction and sense of community—far outweigh the cost of paying the engineer to help with the grant." The township, she said, could become a model for other towns.
The Chatham Township Committee meets at 7:30 p.m. Monday at the Chatham Township Municipal Building. The complete agenda can be found in the Photos & Documents section of this article.