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Sunday, May 7, 2017

Sidewalks continue to plague council. Blind citizen tells council of difficulties he faces.

Discussion of sidewalks continue to take up a lot of the Crossville city council's time as they continue to try and figure out how to economically improve downtown Crossville sidewalks.

In addition the council heard from a Crossville resident who does a lot of walking but is blind and shared the difficulties that he has in trying to walk in the community. Ed Daszkiewicz lives just off of Cook Road and said as a blind person it was very difficult to walk to town as there are no sidewalks at all along Cook Road.

“I don't like to walk in the street, but I have no option,” Daszkiewicz told the council members during the April work session. He also told them that another problem with the sidewalks when he did get to them was some of the sidewalks are old and weathered. In addition, he said it was difficult to navigate downtown because there are no pedestrian lights with audio signals.
Downtown Crossville sidewalk

Because some of the corners are not up to ADA standards Daszkiewicz said he has found himself out in the traffic walking because he can not tell where he is. He said has has been trained by the Veterans Administration in techniques of walking blind but he said it was still very difficult here in Crossville. He also said that while most people don't think about it, the signs put out by downtown businesses are obstacles as well as trees and some sign posts set in the sidewalk as he has to walk toward the out side of the sidewalk where many of these items are.
Council members listen to Ed Daszkiewicz explain
the difficulties he has getting around on foot in
Crossville as a blind person.

Daszkiewicz said he walks between 4 and 7 miles a day and he had walked to attend the council work session that afternoon.

Councilman Scot Shanks has been walking with Mr. Daszkiewicz and said, “Downtown sidewalks can be very busy and it is very different walking with Ed.” Daszkiewicz said that the trees and garbage cans and benches at the courthouse are all hazards that he has to deal with when he walks. He added that the trees have branches that hang down and cause him trouble and he has occasionally removed lower limbs that have poked him in the face.

When asked if the proposed sidewalk ADA improvements would help him, Daszkiewicz said they would greatly help because that gives a consistent way for a blind person to line up to cross the street and he added that those improvements are also needed for people in wheelchairs.

A short time later in the meeting, council again discussed downtown sidewalks at the request of councilman Shanks who said he just didn't feel good about how the council left the sidewalk matter at the last meeting. Shanks said he understood that using city employees to do the sidewalk project would take quite a bit longer then if the work was bid out to a contractor. Bidding out the work would take about 9 months and the city employees could be up to 3 years.

Shanks said that while the city is working downtown there could be no other such projects done by the city and it would disrupt downtown for a very long time. Shanks said he would rather see the project bid out.

Council woman Pamala Harris said the city seem to be “always sitting on stall” when it comes to the sidewalk project. Council,man Shanks said, “I just want to see us move forward.”

Councilman Danny Wyatt suggested the sidewalk project be done using an abutment project that would require the downtown property owners to help pay for the sidewalks.

Shanks said that in order to attract industry and other business, “The perception of Crossville is downtown. If it looks good then we look good.”

With council at a stalemate, city manager Greg Wood said that he and city engineer Tim Begley would be meeting soon with TDOT and they would find out which of the corners TDOT would bring up to ADA standards and the city will do the other corners that TDOT doesn't plan to do.

Wyatt said that was good and asked, “Why should city taxpayers pay to fix corners that TDOT will fix?” Shanks added that he agreed with that.

The matter is on the city's Tuesday regular meeting agenda for discussion and possible action.  

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