In Wednesday’s article regarding the request for $30,000 for bump-outs, Mayor Allaire was quoted: “It’s hard to put a price tag on people’s safety.”
I agree with the mayor on this. But if we’re looking for ways to improve pedestrian safety, I would suggest putting that $30,000 into sidewalk repairs in and around downtown so that people aren’t always walking in the streets.
For example, what happened to the Strongs Avenue sidewalk? That recent project was supposed to connect the Howe Center to downtown for pedestrians. Instead, the sidewalk on the west side just ends and people walk across the grass and parking spots. That seems to be a bigger safety issue and an unfinished project.
This grant was sought after to deal with one important issue raised by the Downtown Rutland Partnership — walkability in downtown, specifically, the danger pedestrians face crossing West Street in front of the Transit Center. I supported the project originally for that reason because encouraging pedestrian traffic is a proven economic driver and demonstrates a vitality in a downtown.
The second bump-out didn’t sway me one way or the other, as it was too far from downtown to be relevant, and city money wasn’t needed. The Partnership, the Rutland Redevelopment Authority and Rutland Blooms were contributing enough to make it a successful project. But once the cost exceeded projections, my argument was not to throw more city money at it but rather to cut expenses.
Reducing the scope of work to include just construction of the primary bump-out would potentially reduce the need for additional contributions. The RRA, through its executive director, said this may be an option but didn’t want to pursue it for a variety of reasons. I’m disappointed in the unwillingness to problem-solve this in a collaborative manner and instead, turn only to the city for more money as if that was the only solution.
The city is not a piggy bank. Hopefully, my perspective will gain some traction.
Christopher Ettori is a Rutland City alderman.