The Planning and Zoning Committee is hoping that Council members will approve the recommendation to make sidewalk development optional for new single family residential homes. The decision would be at the developer's discretion.
"In all likelihood, most developers would choose not to put sidewalks in because it just simply adds to the cost of the lots," explained City Manager Larry Gilley.
He says that typically, cities do require developers to install sidewalks, however, "that doesn't mean that as the City of Abilene, we have to follow what every city does."
As it stands now, sidewalks in Abilene are few and far between.
"Our hope is that over time, as sidewalks are required, there will be connectivity, and it may take a few years for that to occur," said Gilley.
Some residents say it isn't so much about the connectivity that sidewalks provide, but more so the safety to the children who play on them.
"I think there should be sidewalks everywhere, just for the fact that there's kids and everything else and there's crazy drivers out there," said Abilene resident Melissa French. "If it's for the safety of kids and everything else, why not do it."
Another Abilene resident, Annette Parras felt the same.
"I think all houses should have sidewalks, all streets," she said. "It's easier for you to walk, it's also real good for the kids to be learning to ride their bikes, do their skating."
Gilley said that "if our goal is to make Abilene more pedestrian friendly, the way to get there is sidewalks, so it'll be interesting to see where this goes with the City Council."
If the recommendation did pass and there was a future requirement or desire for more sidewalks, the cost would have to come out of taxpayer's pockets.
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