I am writing to you regarding your publication in the Opinions section of The Facts newspaper on Thursday, July 25, regarding the Texas Department of Transportation’s Safe Routes to School Grant application the village of Jones Creek is submitting. I understand, as stated under Our Viewpoint, that your editorial “reflects the majority opinion of The Facts editorial board.”
There were statements made in your editorial that prompted me to write. I feel there are issues that need to be clarified and hope my letter will help you have a better understanding of our situation and might change your opinion. I took great offense to your objection to this project and feel it promotes community strife.
As the marshal of Jones Creek and a life-long resident, I have watched on numerous occasions where potential incidents could have occurred along the proposed sidewalk routes. The goal of the project is to provide a dedicated area for people to safely walk or bike to their destinations without the worry of vehicular traffic or using the grass or ditch. It is important for us to try being proactive to prevent an incident rather than not trying to do anything at all.
Stephen F. Austin Road is the main residential road in Jones Creek that connects one side of town to the other. Bluebonnet Street, like Stephen F. Austin Road, is an artery from Highway 36, and provides a direct route to Stephen F. Austin STEM Academy and Jones Creek City Hall. The proposed route also connects the school to Jones Creek City Hall, the city park, Father’s House Church, and other neighboring subdivisions and side streets.
It is anticipated if sidewalks are installed that more students would be able to walk safely to school. During times throughout the school year, teachers walk students down to the city park. This puts a large number of students on a city street that would otherwise be walking on a sidewalk.
The proposed sidewalks would not only benefit the children walking to school, but the numerous other individuals who use these busy, main thoroughfares on a daily basis. We have bike riders, joggers, dog walkers, skateboarders, kids on hover boards, exercisers and more who use these routes daily.
Our commitment, as a municipality, is to strive to find ways to improve our residents’ quality of life. Whether we receive the grant or not it is important to note the objective to provide our residents with better infrastructure. Why would we not want to take a chance to improve our wonderful little community?
I have observed other sidewalks in other municipalities not being used and if your mentality was applied to other city sidewalks that are not used at all, it could be argued for the sidewalk to be removed and the right-of-way returned to the adjacent property owner. Those cities were being proactive in their effort to afford their residents a safe means of travel and the Village of Jones Creek is attempting to do the same.
It is offensive you feel Jones Creek not deserving or is wasting energy applying for the grant. Our children’s and residents’ lives are the reason we are allowed to govern and we do our best to provide as many services as possible. The people who would use these sidewalks are our children, family, friends and neighbors who we support and represent as a quiet country community.
Lastly, and most importantly, literally placing a dollar amount on the lives of the 14 children who walked the route the particular day the site study was conducted is appalling. It is unfathomable for any one person to designate how much a child is worth. And, if this project prevents one child from injury or death, then it will be worth every penny spent.
If you would have attended the public sidewalk meeting it would have been appreciated and potentially helped create an open dialogue on the ways you feel this project could impact our community. Again, I encourage you to share my letter with your editorial board and I hope you find a change of heart. I apologize that the Village of Jones Creek was not able to pass your test.