Columbiana seeks walkable status

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, February 21, 2006

City officials are hoping more people turn out for tomorrow night&8217;s public hearing to discuss Columbiana&8217;s sidewalk master plan.

The first of two hearings was held Tuesday to develop ideas for a project to build new sidewalks throughout the city and restore existing ones &8212; all in an effort to make Columbiana a more &8220;walkable attraction.&8221;

The city is seeking input to incorporate public concern and to help secure funding, said Mayor Allan Lowe.

Residents can take part in the discussions at City Hall Thursday night at 6:30 p.m. Only a handful of citizens were at the Tuesday meeting.

&8220;This is not a unique approach,&8221; Lowe said. &8220;We did this with our downtown renovation. We are just building on the success we had with that.&8221;

With $100,000 already available for the project, thanks to funds obtained by U.S. Rep. Spencer Bachus, the city kicked off the planning stages with the help of consulting firm, Gresham, Smith and Partners.

Participants at Tuesday&8217;s meeting used highlighters to mark proposed sidewalk locations on an aerial map.

Among the locations some said they would liked to see linked to other city attractions were Columbiana Middle School, Davis Plaza and a proposed apartment complex for residents 55 and older on Egg and Butter Road.

&8220;I would like for us to create a route &8212; a short route and a long route &8212; around the city and have it be interconnected so you could take a walking tour of Columbiana,&8221; Lowe said.

In addition to making Columbiana a more attractive destination, city leaders also stressed the added safety of sidewalks, especially in locations like the middle school and near assisted living facilities.

&8220;We have at least three people I know of on motorized wheel chairs,&8221; Lowe said. &8220;It&8217;s not uncommon to see them out in traffic.&8221;

Organizers hope to continue to highlight areas where new sidewalks are needed and where old ones need repair during tomorrow&8217;s meeting.

That information will be presented when applying for additional state and federal funding, they said