After failed petition, some Dubuque homeowners installing sidewalks on JFK

By  | 

DUBUQUE, Iowa (KCRG) -- A years-long debate over sidewalks in one neighborhood is getting a concrete response from one side.

On JFK Rd. in Dubuque, some homeowners are installing sidewalks despite a petition for sidewalks failing to pass the city council in 2018. (Charlie Grant, KCRG)

Homeowners along John F. Kennedy Road in Dubuque have gone back and forth about whether the city should mandate sidewalks. Last year, a citizen petition to mandate sidewalks between Asbury Rd. and the NW Arterial failed to get majority support from the city council.

People who are pro-sidewalks say it's a safety hazard for people to walk or bike with no sidewalks, especially for the kids in the neighborhood who walk to Eisenhower Elementary School.

Those on the other side of the debate say homeowners shouldn't have to pay to install sidewalks, and they also don't want to maintain them, especially in the winter.

Living on JFK for nearly 30 years, Chuck Schemmel has been through many of these debates. This summer, he and some of his neighbors decided to move ahead and install sidewalks without prompt.

"We figured we might as well go and get ahead of it and get it done now," Schemmel said.

He and eight other neighbors are paying for someone to install sidewalks on their properties.

"We all got together and we had a couple of bids from other ones, and my nephew was the cheapest so we had him do it," Schemmel explained.

They don't think citizens will let go of this sidewalk issue, so they want to put in the sidewalks just in case they are forced to in the future. They say this will save them money because construction costs go up each year, and it's cheaper to have private contractors do the work than the city.

City of Dubuque Engineer Gus Psihoyos is happy they are adding the sidewalks.

"I was pleasantly surprised that people were taking the initiative to install the sidewalks on their own," he said.

However, he said the city doesn't have any plans to force the sidewalks on the rest of the neighborhood.

He said, "it would have to be a council initiative to bring it forward, or property owners would have to sign another petition and bring it forward to the city council to vote on the motion again.”

Still, Schemmel thinks they're making the right move.

"Figured we got to do it sooner or later so might as well get at it," he said.