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City officials: Sunset sidewalk to go on library side of street

Neighbors express safety concerns over sidewalk placement

HILLSDALE - City of Portland transportation officials have decided to build the new sidewalk on the library side of Southwest Sunset Boulevard between Southwest Dewitt Street and Southwest 18th Drive.

At a meeting with interested neighbors on May 1, PBOT officials had presented four options for consideration. Those attending were nearly evenly split on whether the new sidewalk should go on the west (or non-library side) or on the east side of the street.

The option chosen by the city was labeled 'Option D.'

One final meeting on the $800,000 project was held May 21.

PBOT spokesperson Cheryl Kuck wrote in an email that the chosen option, 'meets the city's adopted standards, ensures the longevity of improvements, provides for a redevelopment opportunity on the non-library side of the street and best meets the needs of the larger community.'

The city's decision echoes the view of some that, because the opposite side of the street will one day be developed, with a sidewalk being required, the library side should receive the new state funding for a sidewalk.

Some trees along the library side of the street have been marked with yellow ribbons, seemingly indicating that they will be removed, but Kuck said, 'We think some of the adjacent property owners marked them.' She added, 'Not all trees marked with yellow tape need to be removed.'

Kelly Brignell, a neighbor and a landscape designer, confirmed that neighbors marked the trees. She and others are concerned that trees that aren't removed may die as a result of damage to their root system.

Since the May 1 meeting, several residents have been outspoken in opposition to building on the library side. Sally Gould, who lives next to Southwest Sunset Boulevard on Southwest 18th Drive wrote that the alignment on the library side would mean that '100 people would have to cross Sunset to use the sidewalk and a lot of these are kids.... We could wait another 20 years before development on the (non-library) side.'

Valeurie Friedman, whose children walk to school along Sunset, wrote the city, 'The non-library side of the street is the best location for a sidewalk because it best meets the safety needs of our children. Keeping the sidewalk on the non-library side, where most pedestrians walk now, offers a continuous path with no street crossings for the equivalent of three or four city blocks, from Capitol Highway to 18th Drive.'

Brignell, who lives on the north end of the affected two blocks wrote, 'Current pedestrian safety for school children gets trumped by long-term development that may never take place.'

In an earlier email, Brignell used stronger language, comparing the project to clear-cutting 'kin to timber barons' who 'rape and plunder our forests and natural resources.'

This story originally appeared in the Hillsdale News and can be viewed online at hillsdalenews.org.