Jenkintown Borough

Proposing a better way

Last week, I reached out to Dan Burden of Walkable.org about our situation. Here is his response:

Here is my take:

Creating the right policy to assure improved walking and property values, improved community health, greater social life, spaces supportive of play and related benefits to key streets is important. Community policy should not be punitive to those trying to maintain the quality of their properties. Likely, this policy and approach dates back to a time when sidewalks were not perceived to add value to a property; now this is known to be true. Meanwhile, this added value benefits both the property owner, and the municipality. Walkable communities attract or help retain jobs.  A great number of people now want access to sidewalks, and they are willing to pay a premium to live near one, or on a street that provides for walking and socialization.

A better policy would:

Create a sidewalk system plan, issue a competitive bid contract to one or several firms  to construct five years of bugeted sidewalks, with the city paying 50% of that contract,.With this in place, ask homeowners to contribute to their portion of the sidewalk.  Once the city has an approved contractor, all sidewalks built would have a consistent, desirable quality, and the construction is offered to property owners at a fair price. It would also benefit the city and property owner to have the cost be interest free, added as a modest SID (Sidewalk Improvement District) which might bring your costs down to $20 or so per month.

Randy, not all is lost, I feel that when you go to sell your house you will find a “lift” in value, despite the lien on your property.  The market for people to live in a walkable community is remarkably strong, and, though there is a lack of data to prove my point fully, real estate valuations show that a complete set of blocks with sidewalks and street trees can add $30,000 in value to each property, or about 15%.