Sidewalks keep getting worse and worse

This week’s Dispatch online poll asks readers if they would
support a bond measure to raise funds to repair our city sidewalks.
So far, support and opposition are about equal according to the
poll.
This week’s Dispatch online poll asks readers if they would support a bond measure to raise funds to repair our city sidewalks. So far, support and opposition are about equal according to the poll.

The sidewalk problem gets worse every year in Gilroy, and over the years my attitude towards the uprooted sidewalks has changed. When I first moved to Gilroy in 1994, I did not have an automobile.

I walked everywhere in town, pushing two or three kids in a big double stroller. One of the early joys for my kids as I walked around our town was going over these little sidewalk “hills.” I would let go of the stroller momentarily and then run to catch up with it as it went over the bumps. I would cross streets for the chance to amuse my kids on an unusually uprooted sidewalk.

As my children got a bit older, and learned to ride bicycles and roller-skate, I became wary of the bumpy sidewalks.

As they became skilled cyclists and skateboarders, these bumps became fun once again, as long as my children were wearing helmets.

Over the years, these bumps became part of the joy of scootering and biking around town.

However, I have always seen the inherent danger in the uprooted sidewalks. I imagine that what is fun in a stroller with an able adult in control can be dangerous for someone in a wheelchair. Senior citizens are likely not able to navigate these perilous paths as easily as a 10 year old.

It seems to me that it is one of the basic responsibilities of our city to maintain the sidewalks. Most of the homeowners whose homes are affected by the fractured sidewalks are not the people who planted the trees whose roots are breaking through the cement.

It seems ridiculous to ask homeowners to pay for repairing sidewalks that the city has neglected for so many years. Even while the poll shows that 50 percent of the people who voted online support a bond measure for sidewalk repair, this measure will never pass in Gilroy.

Taxpayers in Gilroy have already signed on to a school bond to improve facilities in our public schools. We are being urged to support our local library system, and I have no doubt that Gilroyans will choose to support the Santa Clara County Library measures.

We are building a state-of-the art police facility, and we are making headway on the Cultural Center downtown.

At some point, taxpayers start to question how our local tax money is being spent. Developers pay enormous impact fees for each of the new homes that are being built in Gilroy.

We are still awaiting our long promised city park in the northwest quad; I personally have been waiting for this park since my kids were in that stroller.

We are now at 10 years and counting – a sign at the site tells me that the park may be completed by the time my oldest child is a senior in high school.

She will have gone from kindergarten through high school waiting for a promised neighborhood park. This is not meant to sound whiny or cynical.

As my children have grown, I have become a realist. I have grown accustomed to waiting for promises to be fulfilled.

Many average citizens like me are beginning to feel that the very least the city can do for us is provide the basic maintenance of our roads and sidewalks.

I often find myself voting for measure that ultimately mean spending more for the good of the community.

I just can’t bring myself to support a bond to raise funds to repair what is the product of poor planning and neglect. When it comes to this bond measure I draw my “line that can’t be crossed” right at that bumpy sidewalk.

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