Dawson Neighborhood Sidewalk Update (February 2015) by Cynthia Medlin
At the April 9, 2012 meeting of the Dawson Neighborhood Plan (DNP) Contact Team our Implementation Tracking Chart was updated to reflect the status of our priority sidewalk needs in the DNP area. Since that time the priority sidewalks on one side of the street have been constructed on Wilson and Euclid between Oltorf and Cumberland and on Cumberland between Euclid and Wilson. These sidewalks were constructed as part of the roadway reconstruction that followed the Wilson/Euclid drainage improvement project. In addition, the American Disabilities Act compliant improvements along South 1st St. and Congress Ave. from Oltorf to Ben White Blvd. have largely been completed. The other priority sidewalks in the plan have not been addressed.
Many of you have noted the increasing number of properties that are being totally “redeveloped” in our neighborhood. Rule §25-6-351 – 354 of the Austin Land Development Code requires sidewalks to be installed when a new building is built or an addition to the building increases the floor area by 50% or more. Recently the code was amended to allow developers to pay a “fee-in-lieu” of building a sidewalk under certain conditions, many of which apply throughout this neighborhood. The benefit of the change is that the fees go into a fund to be used to build a complete sidewalk structure along a street all at once instead of in disjointed sections. The concept is a good one, but there are circumstances and interpretations of the land development code that may need to be addressed in the upcoming code revisions through Code Next to enhance sidewalk construction.
The code does require the funds generated in our area to be used in our area. According to Peter Davis the Dawson NP area has approximately $10,000. “sidewalk fees-in-lieu” but is not enough to construct a complete sidewalk at this time. Per Eric Dusza of the Public Works Department (PWD) the PWD “utilized the approved Sidewalk Master Plan as well as the priorities in the neighborhood plan and in consultation with Capital Metro to prioritize sidewalk construction citywide”.