According to this in the Washington Post, "Adding Walkways Threatens Lawns and Trees but Mostly Neighborhood Peace." Seems that my county is responding to cries for greater pedestrian safety and neighborhood walkability by budgeting for new sidewalks here in the burbs, but people are up in arms over the loss of some lawn.
Opponents of the sidewalks have raised a host of objections: fears of
liability, the loss of trees and the irony that homeowners will be
required by law to shovel snow from sidewalks they didn’t want. Some of the anti-sidewalk sentiments: "I moved here because it didn’t have sidewalks; I like the suburban atmosphere." One opponent said he saw no reason to pave over the lawn, uproot the
Bradford pears and generally "change the character of the neighborhood"
that he found so appealing as a homebuyer 30 years ago.
A county spokesman noted that "While they may know that the county has the right of way for a sidewalk, they’ve mowed that grass for 20 or 30 years, and now all these people are going to be walking on what they have thought of as their yard."
The first neighborhood meeting on the subject was SO contentious that the citizens association brought in professional mediators for the next one.
Readers, how would YOU feel if a few feet of what you consider your garden were paved over for a sidewalk? It’s easy to ridicule people clutching angrily to a few feet of lawn or a crappy Bradford pear but isn’t it usually the case that people object to the taking of their land – even when it really isn’t – no matter what’s on it and no matter the purpose? If it were for a super highway I’d cheer them on, of course, but being against sidewalks is just uninformed, if you ask me. I bet anything they’ll end up liking ’em.