Fairfield responding to residents’ top request: Help us get around the city easier

Connecting residents to city amenities has been the top request by citizens, said Fairfield’s mayor.

Residents want to be able to walk places from their homes, whether it’s to the Community Arts Center or Lane Library, or one of the city’s 28 park facilities or area businesses, said Mayor Steve Miller.

“That has probably been the number one request of people, more biking and walking trails, and the connectivity goes hand-in-hand with the trails,” he said. “I think now its time has come where we try to fill in gaps or create trails where people can walk to get places.”

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City Council this month approved a $75,000 appropriation for Cincinnati-based engineering company MKSK to develop a Citywide Active Transportation Plan to improve pedestrian interconnectivity.

City Manager Mark Wendling said the plan is also about safety.

“The big thing we want to accomplish is establishing safe routes from the neighborhoods,” he said. As an example, if a resident north of Village Green wants to walk with his or her family to the arts center, library or one of the restaurants, they’d have to walk down Pleasant Avenue which could be daunting as there are narrow sidewalks and a lot of traffic.

“We really would like to be able to establish a network of sidewalks or trails that really do connect neighborhoods from a pedestrian standpoint,” Wendling said. “It’s going to take a lot of time.”

Executing a pedestrian interconnectivity plan could take upwards of 20 years, he said.

The city does have an infill sidewalk program, but that doesn’t provide a roadmap to accomplish the end goal, Wendling said.

Wendling said a “big part” of the pedestrian interconnectivity plan would also provide safe routes to school because “some of our schools are fairly isolated. If a kid wanted to walk to school, it could be treacherous.”

Connectivity is also a part of the city’s Fairfield Forward plan, an update to the city’s comprehensive plan.

More sidewalks, trails and paths, and safe routes to school were some of the top priorities for the hundreds involved in the development of the plan that will be presented to the public on from 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesday at the Fairfield Community Arts Center, 411 Wessel Drive.

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More sidewalks and walking paths “will reduce the need to drive to most locations within the city,” according to the plan. The yet-to-be-adopted comprehensive plan also calls for an interconnectivity plan, and the continued requirement that new developments construct sidewalks and consider multi-use paths.

“In our parks, trails are important, but that’s kind of a separate issue. Those are going to be more leisure trails,” Wendling said. “The goal of this is to maybe get you to Harbin Park, or another park, and when you get there, use the trails without having to get into your car.”

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