A debate over sidewalk funding created tension at the City Council meeting on Jan. 28.
A proposal for sidewalk construction on the west side of Grant Street from Taft to Prospect Street went before the council because it deviates from a policy to have sidewalks on both sides of city streets.
The construction of new sidewalks in the city often becomes charged because residents are responsible for the maintenance of sidewalks in front of their homes, including snow removal. The addition of sidewalks can sometimes also affect property values.
However, proponents argue they are necessary for increased walkability in Stoughton’s neighborhoods.
The resolution to add a sidewalk to Grant Street brought consternation from Ald. Timothy Riley (Dist. 1), a resident of the neighborhood.
“Is cement suddenly preferable to trees, flowers, grass and soil?” Riley read from prepared remarks on the resolution.
Seeming to direct his comments at Riley, Ald. Matt Bartlett (Dist. 4) said alders had been elected to serve the needs of the entire community, not just their own neighborhoods.
“Yes I do happen to live in the neighborhood but that doesn’t mean I lose the right to represent my constituents,” Riley said, addressing Bartlett.
Mayor Tim Swadley said the city has made efforts to save trees and other natural features of neighborhoods “all the time” and that would continue if sidewalks are added to Grant Street.