“This is the way we’ve always done it. This is the way everyone else does it.” Sorry, Rick. Not everyone.
So said Rick Bunker at a public works committee meeting in 2015 in response to my suggestion that Jenkintown find a better way to finance sidewalk repairs that does not overburden residents. Once again, I can report Mr. Bunker wrong.
Yesterday, while driving up Rockwell Road in Abington, I noticed the recent sidewalk reconstruction between Roy Avenue and Welsh Road, nearly a quarter mile of contiguous sidewalk construction. Who paid for all that, I wondered?
Turns out that Abington Township did with considerable help from a Transportation and Community Development Initiative (TCDI) grant. Administered by the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (DVRPC), these grants “support smart growth in the individual municipalities of the Delaware Valley through initiatives that implement the region’s long-range plan…”
Among the stated goals of this initiative are:
- Supporting local planning projects that will lead to more residential, employment or commercial opportunities in areas designated for growth or redevelopment;
- Improving the overall character and quality of life within the region to retain and attract business and residents;
Abington Township put this project out to bid, estimating a cost of $75,000. It applied for and received a grant of $60,000 to offset that cost on the basis that this would promote bicycling along the Route 611 corridor. (See here.) One bid, one contractor, with one-fifth the project cost split among all of Abington’s taxpayers. We have some residents that by themselves paid $15,000 to fix their frontage.
At that same public works meeting, I also asked if the Borough had researched the state’s Multi-Modal fund, a pot of money for pedestrian and bicycling infrastructure improvements that comes from our paying the highest gas taxes in the country. Borough Manager George Locke speculated that those grants were intended for commercial districts. To the best of my knowledge, he did not follow up on my suggestion, but I have shown that PennDOT has awarded grants to non-commercial districts.
I’ll leave the reader to come to their own conclusions about the level of vision, leadership, professionalism, and accountability of our public officials, but if like me you continue to feel overburdened by their actions, these missteps multiplied by the dozens will help you to understand why.