Trail could connect Greenewood Road
By ANDREW MCGINN
A new pathway connecting Ram Drive to Greenewood Road wouldn’t just serve the mobility-impaired residents of Jefferson trying to access the congregate meal site, a concerned resident told the city council streets committee Tuesday.
It would help the elderly residents of Greenewood become more mobile themselves.
“It gives the elderly community access to walkways,” said Johnetta Harms.
Jefferson’s sidewalk system ends at Grauer Street, effectively cutting off the residents of Greenewood Homes from the rest of town.
Concern about the area’s isolation was revived in September after The Jefferson Herald reported on the plight of Wendell Lindahl, a 91-year-old veteran of World War II who still lives at home but was driving his electric mobility scooter on Highway 4 in order to reach the congregate meal site at the Greenewood Community Center.
Police said they had no other recourse than to ticket Lindahl in August for no valid driver’s license to keep him off certain busy streets.
Police had told Lindahl to use sidewalks to Grauer Street, then to use the grassy shoulder from there to Greenewood Road — but the steep shoulder presents a tipping hazard to Mr. Lindahl’s three-wheeled scooter.
“Jefferson is failing to accommodate these citizens,” son Allen Lindahl told the Herald. “Dad isn’t the only one who goes to congregate meals on his chair.”
His dad’s scooter faces impound if seen on Highway 4 or Lincoln Way, police have said.
The city’s engineering firm, Bolton & Menk, on Tuesday presented a concrete trail concept to the water/sewer and street/sanitation committee that would provide a safer ride not only for mobility scooters, but for bicyclists and golf carts accessing the nearby municipal golf course.
The total cost: $342,000.
The sticker shock was audible.
“Wow,” one committee member said.
Resident Kay Skalla, who happens to be Mr. Lindahl’s neighbor, spoke up.
“$342,000 is a piece of cake compared to a head injury,” she said.
The plan presented Tuesday differs from previous attempts to build a sidewalk to Greenewood.
It wouldn’t be a sidewalk, but actually a 10-foot-wide “multipurpose path.”
“If you call it a bike trail, you have a better chance of getting it than if you call it a sidewalk,” Councilman Larry Teeples said.
Teeples was referring to the Iowa Department of Transportation, which previously denied a sidewalk on its right of way. That would have required the city to acquire private land to build a sidewalk further away from the traveled portion of Highway 4.
The new plan calls for the path to begin at Ram Drive, then cross Highway 4 at Grauer Street. The trail would then follow the west side of Highway 4 to Greenewood.
The city — not the residents whose property it would cut across — would be responsible for its maintenance and for removal of snow, according to City Administrator Mike Palmer.
“There has been a lot of discussion about this over the years,” Palmer said.
Where the plan goes from Tuesday’s committee meeting is unclear.