Resident wants city to pay attention to her neighborhood
EVERETT - After years of seeing little improvement in her neighborhood, a resident is fighting to get sidewalks built.
Dorian Kostelyk’s mission is simple: Get the city to build sidewalks along 15th Street and Baker Avenue in the Delta Neighborhood.
“I’m not willing to give this up; this is a safety issue,” Kostelyk said.
The city told Kostelyk there is no money to build sidewalks, but Kostelyk has talked with longtime neighbors who told her they’ve asked for sidewalks in the neighborhood for more than a decade and have been ignored.
The intersection is next to the Baker Heights Community Center and Bakerview Apartments housing project for low-income seniors.
Because there are no sidewalks, Kostelyk has seen people in wheelchairs wheeling themselves in the middle of the road. Kids walking to Hawthorne Elementary use the street as well.
The city is noticing now.
Before the City Council last week, chief administrative officer Debra Bryant said she would get traffic engineer Ryan Sass to conduct a traffic study in the area. The city has to do a traffic study before it can determine what to do.
The city says it hasn’t received a formal request for sidewalks until Kostelyk’s request, city spokeswoman Kate Reardon said last week.
The city has a program that lets residents raise money to have city crews put in sidewalks, and Bryant suggested that may be one route the neighborhood could take. Considering the senior population nearby, that would be the wrong route to take because the neighborhood is low income, Kostelyk said.
In many cases, the city builds sidewalks in conjunction with new development, Reardon said. Development in the Delta area is stagnant with the decades-old Bakerview Apartments and government project housing.
Kostelyk accuses the city of focusing on favored projects while ignoring the lower middle class Delta Neighborhood.
She found out the city’s long-range comprehensive plan doesn’t include installing sidewalks in the Delta Neighborhood.
She said the city couldn’t explain why.
The city applied for two pedestrian safety state Department of Transportation grants earlier this year. One was for a project adjacent to Hawthorne Elementary; the other was to do a second phase of streetscape improvements downtown along Hoyt Avenue.
Hawthorne Elementary is on 12th Street in the Delta Neighborhood.
“It sounds to me like the city hasn’t viewed these safety issues as a priority and instead have been pouring money into streetscaping,” Kostelyk said. “It seems rather odd that residents are expected to pay for their own safety needs such as sidewalks, while the city pours money into beautifying certain parts of the city.”
The streetscape plan is part of the city’s downtown plan, Reardon said.
Kostelyk says a state transportation grant could pay for the sidewalks, but Reardon says the project wouldn’t be eligible for that money.
The city may try to get new sidewalks wrapped into the Hawthorne Elementary grant, Reardon said. The grant is to ensure kids have safe walking routes to school.
Hawthorne Elementary students have walked to school along these streets for at least three decades.
The Everett School District has a preference for sidewalks, but it has not made any formal request to have them installed, district spokeswoman Mary Waggoner said.
Hawthorne Elementary staff “has brought the subject up with a city person who does safety programs in the neighborhood — not as an emergency — but as a proactive measure. There have been no parent complaints to the school,” Waggoner said.
Kostelyk was told by a council staff person to hold off on speaking before the council last week to give the council a chance to be briefed on the issue.
Instead, Kostelyk spoke out.
Council President Ron Gipson encouraged Kostelyk to come back in the near future and bring up the sidewalks issue again.
Kostelyk said the council’s response indicates to her that the council is listening.
The Delta Neighborhood will discuss sidewalks at its meeting this week after press time on Tuesday, Sept. 18.
Kostelyk also is talking with the Center for Independent Living, a disability rights group, about this issue. The issue may come up at the city’s Diversity Board meeting, also after press time Monday, Sept. 17.
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