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Town sidewalks to undergo transformation

By SERINA MARSHALL

Staff Writer

[email protected]

The Town of Jonesborough received a generous grant of $100,000 from the Sonia King Trust to help fund the placement of sidewalks on East Main Street, which is something residents in the community have been requesting for years.

“It was great news and exciting to hear (about the grant) because it accelerates this project that we need to get done,” Mayor Chuck Vest said.

The announcement of the funding drew applause from those in attendance at the Jonesborough Board of Mayor and Alderman meeting Monday night.

The need for the project was illustrated at the Nov. 8 board meeting, when a number of Jonesborough residents voiced their concerns about the safety of pedestrians along streets in the town.

“Since the last meeting, we have put together a citizen’s email group (to update on the progress of the safety concerns),” Main Street resident Susan Fowler said at the Dec. 13 meeting. “We have over 40 residents basically representing (those affected), from New Halifax down to West Main and along College and Woodrow, which is a pretty represented group of the impacted areas.”

Vest said the citizens voicing their concerns and not letting the town forget about the sidewalks definitely brought it to the forefront again.

“We’ve probably discussed adding sidewalks up East Main Street for 10 years or more,” Vest said. “But there’s always been some logistical issues, more so than financial issues.”

Vest said the wait on sidewalks is partially due to space issues in front of the residential homes along East Main Street.

Town Administrator Glenn Rosenoff said the plan for sidewalks had been in talks for a few months and traffic studies have been conducted in the area. According to Rosenoff, the estimated cost for installation of sidewalks from Headtown Road to downtown Jonesborough is about $104,000.

The project will also connect the Senior Center and McKinney Center to downtown.

He said the receipt of the additional funding will help move the project forward.

“We’ve already got the momentum and we’ve already done the work coming up with an estimate for material costs,” Rosenoff said. “The funding wouldn’t have been in the budget until fiscal year 2023, but the ($100,000) propelled it to the front. We have a funding source, we have the materials, we have the labor, now we’ve come together saying we can get this thing done.”

Despite the additional funding to help complete the project, there are still logistical obstacles.

“Some of the homes sit really close to the road, and if we try to widen them and put in sidewalks or do any type of configuration for an intersection, it runs into some right-of-way issues and property, so that’s probably one of the biggest hurdles,” Vest said.

There is also a more urgent need for the project now than there was 10 years ago, according to both Vest and Rosenoff.

“We’ve got the people; we’ve got a funding source. This is a great marriage to get this project underway,” Rosenoff said.

Though there is as yet no definitive date for construction and completion of the project, the hope is for it to begin in 2022.