The writer made the statement, “After living here for five years, Cleveland is no closer to being user-friendly than it was then.” The resident also made the statement/question, “As I drive down the ‘walkless’ streets, I wonder how many sidewalks could have been constructed out of the money that was used for the Greenways ... they (people) could have been walking around the neighborhood getting to know their neighbors instead of seeing strangers all the time.”
The writer ended the letter by asking the question, “When are you going to build sidewalks, Cleveland? That is all I want to know.”
I was taken aback by this letter, not so much because part of the accusations were aimed at the Greenway, but at the fact that the writer did not see the Greenway as a “social outlet” and had not recognized what has been done in this city in the last five years when it comes to sidewalk construction.
First of all, let’s face the facts about sidewalks. Unless there are city or countywide regulations in place that require neighborhoods to have sidewalks, installation of them is usually up to the developer. Perhaps in an ideal world there would be a sidewalk in front of every house. Bradley County’s growth has meant new neighborhoods of all sizes, a few of which do have sidewalks. However, the ones that don’t have them also don’t have restrictions for using a portion of the streets to walk and get to know their neighbors.
Now, let’s answer the question, “When are you going to build sidewalks, Cleveland?”
According to Teresa Torbett, Cleveland grants manager, Cleveland has been fortunate to receive multiple grants for installing many sidewalks in the last five years. Some of the neighborhood connections realized include 20th Street near Blythe-Bower School, 14th Street from Wildwood to Lay Street, East Street from Inman to 6th, Edwards Street from 1st to Central, Harle Avenue from 8th to 15th, 1st Street from 2nd to Edwards, and the list goes on.
Portions of the major thoroughfares that have sidewalks include Peerless Road, Keith Street, 25th Street and Ocoee, including a new section from 25th Street to Northwood subdivision. There is also a brand new sidewalk on the south side of Raider Drive from Peerless to the Greenway.
The Greenway has been an asset when grants have been pursued with the “Safe Routes to Schools” program. Having the Greenway in place gives — and has given — our community an advantage to secure government grants to install — you guessed it — sidewalks. One such example is a sidewalk soon to be built along Willow Street from the Greenway to Harle Avenue, which makes for a “safe route” to Arnold Elementary and Cleveland High School.
The Cleveland/Bradley County Greenway, while connected to many neighborhoods presently, serves as a place where friends and family who may not live in “sidewalked” neighborhoods can come together to enjoy the benefits of a sidewalk and with the added security of not having to cross any streets. The social aspect of the Greenway is perhaps its most attractive attribute, next to wellness.
While the Greenway might seem like a glorified sidewalk, it’s much more than that. It’s a gathering place, exercise venue, social outlet and recreational destination. It’s an investment in our community that pays dividends to its users every day.