Sidewalks get no love in Mankato

The City Council in Mankato, Minn., has shot down a plan to construct sidewalks for kids walking to an elementary school. The vote wasn’t close, the Mankato Free Press reports.

Only one of seven council members voted for the sidewalks around Washington Elementary School and near the Mankato hospital.

Sidewalks hearken back to a day in America where people walked to places, maybe even stopped to talk to neighbors. But that romanticized view has no place in America, judging from the reaction of people at a meeting Monday night.

Homeowners in Mankato appear to hate sidewalks.

“My initial thought when we got the announcement was ‘Why on earth do we need sidewalks?'” said Ray Hager, who lives on the corner of Glencrest Drive and Division Street, describing his neighborhood as being dominated by retirees. “… Just on the surface, it didn’t seem a good use of public funds.”

Six of the seven council members offered similar sentiments on immediate construction of the sidewalks, which would have cost $220,000 with nearly $152,000 coming from the federal funds.

Council member Trudy Kunkel said she examined statistics on pedestrian and bicycle accidents in the neighborhood and found only one in a decade-long period that may have involved a young person traveling to or from school.

“The data does not support the project as far as ‘safe routes to school’ …,” Kunkel said.

Mayor Eric Anderson praised the city’s engineering staff for seeking out locations where sidewa

One council member says the decision wasn’t against sidewalks per se, and that the city will install sidewalks whenever roads are reconstructed. But she said the Safe Routes program “consumes too much time, energy and emotion of city staff, council members and neighborhood residents,” according to the Free Press.