Local Government

Bever Avenue sidewalk debate resurfaces for Cedar Rapids council

Resident: 'Bureaucrats are making a defense for their empire'

The sidewalk ends, but new curb ramps are in place, at 30th Street SE on Bever Avenue SE in Cedar Rapids on Monday, Marc
The sidewalk ends, but new curb ramps are in place, at 30th Street SE on Bever Avenue SE in Cedar Rapids on Monday, March 27, 2017. There are currently no sidewalks between 30th and 34th streets SE, but an extension could be coming soon. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS — Plans for a sidewalk connecting to Bever Park — which failed to get City Council support a month ago — has new life.

Cedar Rapids City Council member Ralph Russell requested the matter be reconsidered because of its importance to the neighborhood and because two members of City Council were absent when the plan failed on May 23.

“I think this project is very important for the neighborhood,” Russell said. “It really supports our complete streets policy, providing walkability and connectivity to the immediate neighborhood and to Bever Park, which is right next door.”

The plan calls for sidewalks on both sides of Bever Avenue from 34th to 30th streets SE, where it would meet up with Bever Park. It would mean retaining walls on three or four properties on the north side of the street and removal of at least two trees, Cedar Rapids City Engineer Nate Kampman said.

The city’s sidewalk plan prioritizes connections to parks, among other places.

The City Council voted 7-1 on Tuesday — with Mayor Ron Corbett opposing — to reconsider approving the project scope and awarding a $324,877 contract to Horsfield Construction Inc. at the July 11 meeting. Staff plan to notify neighbors.

“It’s just a matter of bureaucrats are making a defense for their empire,” said Joe Day, who lives on Bever Avenue and is against the project.

City Council favored the project by a 4-3 vote on May 23, but it fell short of the five votes needed to pass. Day slammed the council at the meeting, saying they are “enablers for the staff” and that the project would “demean and deface” his neighborhood.

ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW ADVERTISEMENT

Neighbors won’t use the sidewalks because “we don’t walk down the street, we drive,” he added.

“It has no purpose whatsoever, other than Russian logic that because we (did road work on) Bever Avenue, ‘Ve vill have sidewalks whether you like it or not,’ ” he said mocking a Russian accent. “Well, we don’t like it. It has no purpose.”

Jay Halverson, who worked at Bever Pool, supported the project.

“I know for a fact it’s a high volume area for a lot of kids,” he said. “There’s a lot of bikes and a lot of kids down there, so I think a sidewalk would be a great idea.”

l Comments: (319) 339-3177; brian.morelli@thegazette.com

Give us feedback

We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

Or if you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.