More than a year after a group of residents walked through downtown Greenwood, noting crumbling sidewalks, uneven ramps and faded crosswalk lines, the first project they suggested is being done.
And their hope is that more will be coming.
Members of Restore Old Town Greenwood, a downtown revitalization group, walked along Main Street last year looking for ways to make the area more pedestrian friendly. They asked the city to make multiple improvements, including updating sidewalks and crosswalks and moving a sign that was low enough to bump a person’s head. The sign got moved, and this summer the city is planning to paint fresh crosswalk stripes and put in new curb ramps for wheelchairs, strollers, and motor scooters at Brewer and Main streets.
Seeing that work added to the city’s list of street and sidewalk projects this year was encouraging, Restore Old Town Greenwood member Chuck Landon said.
And now, the group is planning another study.
This summer, the group plans to organize a similar stroll, likely near Isom Elementary School on Meridian Street. They’re looking for crumbling sidewalks, faded or no pavement paint at crosswalks and sidewalks that aren’t wheelchair-accessible.
Children from the elementary school and nearby middle school, as well as neighborhood children, use that road to walk to the Mrs. Curl ice cream shop, Old City Park, the Greenwood Public Library and the city splash pad, said John Michael Jones, Restore Old Town Greenwood president.
The concern is whether the sidewalks and crosswalks are safe for the children who keep the parks and ice cream shop busy, he said. Children gather at Mrs. Curl and have a narrow sidewalk to line up on. Jones said he remembers seeing a child fall at the fence by the street and end up partially in the road.
Pedestrians also are crossing the street to the park and library near a hill, where they can’t see traffic and drivers can’t see them, he said.
“We need to figure out how to make this less dangerous,” he said.
That might mean installing electronic crosswalk signs that tell pedestrians when to walk or not walk at some of the intersections, or a guardrail near the ice cream shop, Jones said. After their study this summer, the group will ask the city for fixes.
They’ll also be keeping their eyes open for other potential projects, such as walls of buildings where murals could be painted, he said. The organization works to beautify and repair the old town area, and encourage business growth. They have planned downtown cleanup days and encouraged residents to shop at local businesses.
Members of Restore Old Town Greenwood again want to recruit other residents and city officials for their second walkability study this summer.
After last year’s study, the group made a list of suggestions to the city, including adding crosswalks, painting existing crosswalks to make them more visible, widening narrow sidewalks and installing crosswalk signs. They’ll be satisfied with the first study if the city fixes the Brewer Street crosswalk by the end of the year, as promised, Landon said.
This year, the city chose to do the Brewer Street project because Greenwood can afford the estimated $2,000 cost and the work will take minimal effort to improve safety, department director Mark Richards said. The city’s gas tax funds, which are used for road construction projects, will pay for the work, he said.
The crosswalk stripes and three new curb ramps for the intersection of Brewer and Main streets will make the crosswalk easier to see and the sidewalks more safe for residents who use wheelchairs, he said.
The walkability studies are useful because residents are doing the work to figure out what they want and need, and then letting the city know what their concerns are, he said. Their efforts help officials understand residents’ priorities, he said.
“It’s not something that we would be able to do on our own, and I don’t think we should,” he said.