Citizens speak up about sidewalks, roadway safety
By BRITTANY FHOLER
Several citizens voiced their concerns over public safety on residential streets during the citizens forum portion of the Copperas Cove City Council’s regular meeting.
Mark Weir started by telling the city council about the petition he and his family started on Change.org after a dear family friend, William Ames, was killed by a hit and run driver in the 600 block of Urbantke Lane on Monday, January 13.
“I was blessed nine months ago when I moved here and purchased a house in an absolutely awesome neighborhood,” Weir said. “I noticed that my taxes were a little high which is an aspect where I live at, I didn’t mind. I have adequate sidewalks. I have lighting. I have everything you could want in a community.”
Weir added that he couldn’t imagine his kids being outside in a neighborhood without these things.
“The past nine months, I actually didn’t realize the other half of Cove,” Weir said. Weir said he drove around to look at the other neighborhoods in Cove and the state of the streets and sidewalks.
“I’ve seen how unsafe these conditions are,” Weir said. “Pedestrians, the kids walking, the mothers pushing their strollers, the man on his motorized scooter- all have to be walking or being rode in the roads because when they were walking through, the sidewalks are in and out and his motorized scooter- the last time I checked, they don’t have four-wheel drive, so they have to get off the road, so it’s unsafe for them and the vehicles that are coming back and forth.”
Weir said he had noticed that Veterans Avenue was on the list of streets to be maintained and repaired and was glad for it but he would like to see other streets such as 1st Street, Skyline Drive, Urbantke Lane, Sunset Lane and Highway Avenue.
“These roads are lacking adequate streetlights, safe sidewalks, crosswalks, stop and yields signs and means to slow down drivers in areas that are known for high speeds,” Weir said.
Weir added that he understands the city’s current policy for sidewalks and driveway repairs is that they are the responsibility of the homeowner.
“With that being said, it is understandable that some residents may not be able to afford the cost of installation and repair to their sidewalks,” Weir said. “However, we are in hopes that by requesting council members to review the budget, us asking for grants or reaching out for donated or discounted supplies, community service and volunteers, we can actually make our city safe for all.”
For roads like Urbankte Lane, where Ames was killed, Weir requested the city implement a way to slow drivers down.
From 23rd down to 2nd Street on Urbantke is “nothing but a drag strip,” Weir added.
There are also sides of Urbantke where there is no sidewalk.
“People are actually yelling at kids to get out of their grass,” Weir said. “Now, how can you yell at a kid to get out of your grass when they’re trying to get to their school bus? Walking in the road? It’s unheard of.”
The section of the street where Ames was killed does not have a sidewalk, only grass.
“I’m not here to bash our city,” Weir said. “Our city is awesome. I’m not here to bash our city council members. What I’m here to do is I’m asking for solutions. What can we do as citizens of a whole and council members, what can we do together to get this fixed?”
Weir also encouraged citizens to realize that it’s their responsibility to band together and make their voices heard.
“City council members- it’s not their job to sit there and roam around the streets all day to find all these things that are in disrepair,” Weir said. “It’s us citizens’ job to do that, to bring it forth to their attention so they can actually deal with it.”
Jayme Sigler spoke next. Sigler ran for City Council Place 3 during the November 2019 election on a platform of sidewalks, streetlights and public safety.
“It’s now 2020 and nothing has changed,” Sigler said. “When I spoke to city staff, I got a lot of information about how the city works and a lot of excuses.”
Sigler said she was also told sidewalks are the responsibility of property owners and that streetlights were the responsibility of the electric companies.
“No one was willing to step up and take responsibility for the city’s problems, and to be fair to the council, the citizens of Cove didn’t step up either. Eleven percent of our registered voters showed up to vote, so nothing has changed and now a man is dead,” Sigler said. “It is everyone’s responsibility to ensure our safety. It is the responsibility of the voters to elect government officials who have safety as a priority. It is drivers’ responsibility to drive safely and be aware of their surroundings and follow traffic laws, and it is the city’s responsibility to enact policies and spend our money on things that ensure our safety.”
Resident Siggi Loe also addressed the lack of sidewalks and dim streetlights.
“I’ve mentioned several times before as well, even in the new developments, with new subdivisions, we have sidewalks only on one side of the road,” Loe said. “When I asked why that is, I was told that the builders are building according to the city code, so what that tells me is that the city code only requires the sidewalk on one side of the street, and that is wrong.”
Loe said she believed that everybody should have a sidewalk in front of their house, especially in the new subdivisions where it can be incorporate their driveway as they are building. She also said the lights are too far apart and not bright enough.
“Those things have to be priority, and I don’t want to offend anybody who plays golf or anything, but those things need to be fixed before we fix a golf cart pathway,” Loe said.