Ah, let’s just walk, it’s not that far...

During college I was able to get into a work-study program that placed me in at a rendering company. No we didn’t draw the façades of building. Their operation was to pick up the scraps of meat left over at meat-packing plants, dead animals on farms and used grease from restaurants. They would cook them all up and produce two products. At that time one was used extensively as cattle feed, now regulated; the other was tallow or grease that was sold to the Japanese to make women’s makeup.

My job was to do the machinery layout for new facilities; the company was growing hand over fist. My biggest success there was to design a system that would allow the same materials we were picking up to be processed and fed to people. The end product always reminded me of the movie “Soylent Green” when Charlton Heston screams, “Soylent green, it’s people, it’s people.” The process was the same as the first process, only they picked up the raw material in refrigerated trucks and kept the stuff refrigerated through the entire process. Lately, seeing the news on “pink slime,” I’ve wondered if it isn’t the same thing 40-some years later.  

My next job was for the City of Covington, Ky. where I work in the traffic engineering department. I wasn’t an engineer but I was hell on the drafting board. So I helped in the design and right-of-way issues involved with a grant the city got to replace the entire curb and gutter network in the city, some 400 miles – a big project by today’s standards. As the project progressed, one of my jobs was to mark with spray paint all of the blocks of sidewalk that had to be repaired. The cost of this had to be covered by the homeowner. There was financial help for those who could not afford it, but independent contractors were doing the work.

Remember, something like 400 miles of curb and gutter equals about the same amount of sidewalks and a lot of repairs. I saw an opportunity, quit my job, and with a couple of friends went into business. Door to door we offered to repair the marked blocks. Our pitch was $50 a block no ifs and or buts. We would set up half-a-block at a time. And there were a lot of people using those sidewalks. Our biggest worry was someone tripping on one of the removed blocks after it had been removed and waiting for us to finish demolition and pour the new concrete. What a year; my partners worked hard and we had a lot of fun.

For the most part, every house in Metro Cincinnati, where Covington is part of the tri-cities, only on the south side of the Ohio River, had to have sidewalks. Now, you’ve heard me rant about this before, I think most recently when the county would not push the state to put sidewalks on the bridge over the railroad tracks on Jefferson Davis Highway, just north of the Chester Road intersection. Now I have a new grip.

I guess by now you have been ensnarled in the traffic around the courthouse or government complex where Route 10 is being widened, making plenty of room for more cars. But have you noticed that there are no sidewalks? Right there at our county seat. Even the most podunk county seats everywhere have sidewalks around the courthouse. Many times leading nowhere, but they are there.

Have you noticed little sections of sidewalk here and there? Route 10 for instance, where sections of sidewalk exist. Those sidewalks were built because people like you and I wanted them, and told the county and developer. So they were entered into the proffers (promises) of the case and now you have a dashed-line of sidewalks leading up Route 10 from Chester to the courthouse. Oh wait, they stop short of the courthouse don’t they. Grand Oaks community,  Iron Mill, Magnolia Lakes, all have them leading to nowhere. Why do they have them? Partly because the people wanted them, but more than that, the county wanted the development to have sidewalks.

Now comes one of the most noticeable project currently under construction in the county, right at the county complex, the county seat. This is the place where the Economic Development Director, Will Davis, drives his potential large business prospects to his office, pointing out along the way how great it is to live, work and play in Chesterfield.

It really bothers me that we (the County of Chesterfield) couldn’t accommodate the pedestrian, especially at the government complex, when the trend in this country is the exact opposite. What is the reasoning behind not constructing sidewalks on the most seen area of the county? The rest of the country is seeing a future in which people walk more, for health sake, for fuel savings and for just plain relaxation. I just don’t get it. A developer is coerce into constructing sidewalks on their projects when county government can’t be bothered, and in this economy when construction projects are bid lower than they have been in years. Go figure.

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