When exactly do arguments or differences of opinion about finance(s), overcome or defeat clearly identified public-safety issues? The simple straightforward answer should be, “Never!” However, we have such a situation in Pawcatuck. At issue, are the lack of sidewalks along Route 1 in Pawcatuck, starting from about what most folks know as “Birdland” heading in an easterly direction, to the approximate point where Mayflower Avenue intersects with Route 1.
Those who travel Route 1 regularly know it to be a heavily trafficked road, a narrow road with extremely narrow shoulders, and therein lies the safety issue. As a direct result of the significant development along Route 1 over an approximate 35-year period, vehicular traffic has exploded, and so has foot traffic, bicyclists and handicapped folks traveling on motorized scooters. Allowing folks to be consistently within inches of serious injury and/or possible death due to the lack of (safe) sidewalks, is unconscionable.
The town of Stonington is not a wealthy town, neither is it a poor town. Stonington is blessed with beautiful schools, a relatively new police station, state-of-the-art turf on our football field, very nice and well-maintained equipment, and is working toward a new boat house and related facilities for our rowers, etc., etc. I personally support all of the aforementioned; however, I cringe when I hear repeated excuses about the lack of funding required to correct a well-known and -quantified public-safety issue.
This is not a new issue. It has been on and off the marquee several times over the years. Now is not the time for more meetings, for more excuses and finger-pointing, or for more delaying tactics. Now is the time to act, find the financing, assign a project-manager and start. Now. I seriously doubt that any of our elected officials would feel comfortable if one of our fellow citizens were seriously injured, or killed, because we couldn’t get a few miles of sidewalk built. I have every confidence that our elected officials will finally move on the matter immediately, and worry about financial (sharing) matters downstream.