Shrewsbury students don’t walk to school

The letter from Shrewsbury Mayor Emilia Siciliano printed in the Hub (Sept. 18) is filled with errors and misconceptions regarding the proposed sidewalk program, and leaves a major question to be answered.

First, as the mayor knows, Garden Road and Beechwood Drive are not the only safe route to White Street for children from the easterly part of town. Colonial Drive has a pedestrian only path and a crossing guard, so children may walk over to White Street from Sycamore without ever traveling on Garden Road or Beechwood Drive.

Secondly, the mayor quotes a traffic study done for Garden Road during the hours of 7-9 a.m., which passes for a “rush hour” in sleepy Shrewsbury.

The study was done incidentally, by the boro engineer, who has the most to gain from the expensive sidewalk construction program. The study showed a total of 50 cars proceeding to and from White Street on Garden in this two-hour period, which breaks down to about two cars every five minutes — hardly heavy traffic by any definition.

Unfortunately, the study did not count the number of children walking to school in this period. Maybe because there were none.

Children in this day and age are mostly driven to school by their parents, which has been the practice around here for a very long time. We have lived on Garden Road for decades, raised our kids here and can say with great confidence that we seldom see children walking to school while walking dogs, jogging or strolling in the morning.

Since it only takes about six minutes to walk from Sycamore to White Street on Garden, you would likely encounter only two cars in that period of time and that’s at rush hour. In the quieter hours of the day the kids even set up their street hockey nets in the road.

The mayor then states that state grant money was received for the sidewalk project on White and Beechwood. Council minutes indicate the grant application was rejected and the money has never been received.

She then states that grant money has been received for the Garden, Borden and Robinson sidewalks, but the money has not been received even though the engineering for the project is proceeding. Given the fiscal problems at the state level it is likely that this grant will not be paid, and that the taxpayers of Shrewsbury will have to pay the entire $5 million cost of the full five-year project.

The mayor indicates that she wants these sidewalks so that all the 510 students at the Shrewsbury School will be safe. A nice thought, but all the 510 students don’t walk on Garden, Borden and Robinson, only a handful do, apparently in complete safety, since we have, over a 50-year period, a zero-accident rate.

The real unanswered question here is why is the mayor talking about voting on the sidewalk project at all, since the council voted unanimously at the Sept. 2 meeting to approve a resolution by Council President Terel Cooperhouse to send out a survey to the residents affected by the project, the results of which would be binding, stating “let the majority rule” and “if the majority is opposed we should drop the project.”

Has the mayor set things up so that half of the council will vote for sidewalks, half will side with the residents, and then she will have the deciding vote? That would be going against the will of the people!

In Shrewsbury 300 years ago we fought a revolution against tyranny so that our voices would be heard, and it is beginning to look like we still have to fight for that right.
Virginia and Robert Zeller