City to install sidewalk near J.B. Stephens

GREENFIELD — A $21,000 sidewalk project will make for a safer walk to school for some Greenfield students, officials said.

In coming weeks, a sidewalk will be installed on the east side of Blue Road to connect McKenzie Road to the crosswalk in front of J.B. Stephens Elementary School, 1331 N. Blue Road in Greenfield. For years, there has been no direct path between neighborhoods near the intersection of McKenzie and Blue roads and the school, only intermittent patches of sidewalk requiring children to cross a busy street.

The city of Greenfield has hired Vail’s Concrete of Markleville to remedy the issue by building about 6,500 feet of sidewalk.

Installing a sidewalk in that location has been on the city’s to-do list for several years. Officials said it’s a matter of public safety, especially for the elementary-aged children who walk to school on Blue Road every day.

There’s already sidewalk on the west side of Blue Road, so some students walking from McKenzie Road toward J.B. Stephens need to cross Blue Road, which sees significant traffic, twice to reach the school building.

Mayor Chuck Fewell said the city worked with Greenfield-Central School Corp. administrators to get the project on the schedule this year. It was important for the city to assist in getting students to and from school in a safe manner, Fewell said. In time, he’d like to see more sidewalks built in places there aren’t any.

The project will cost about $21,000 for materials and labor. Street commissioner Tyler Rankins said he expects to see work start in a few weeks.

Each year, the city of Greenfield earmarks $50,000 for sidewalk projects. Money to pay for the new sidewalk will come from those funds.

Rankins said it’s important to provide safe access to school for all the city’s children.

“We’ve wanted to do this for a while,” he said. “We’re trying to expedite it. It’s a necessity for the school’s kids.”

The project will be the last major sidewalk project for the year, Rankins said. Some money will be left over in the sidewalk fund, but he said he wants to have that on hand in case of an emergency.

For 2016, he requested city officials consider earmarking an additional $25,000 for sidewalk work.

Greenfield-Central Superintendent Harold Olin said the school appreciates the city working with the district to build a safer path. School officials don’t want students to have to cross the street if they don’t need to; building a sidewalk along the east side if Blue Road will keep some students from having to cross a fairly busy street.

The sidewalk also will be helpful if there is an emergency at the elementary school during which school officials had to move students out and away from the building.

“There is no path there on the east side of Blue Road, so for kids who live in housing additions east of that … they have to cross the road a couple of times,” he said. “That’s silly.”

The sidewalk project will help residents beyond those whose children attend J.B. Stephens, Olin said. Residents want more sidewalks for walking, and the new sidewalk will benefit families living on the east side of Greenfield, he said.

“I think the people who live in that area will appreciate the connectivity,” he said. “It’s a win-win, not only for the safety of our students but also for the citizens living on the east side of the city.”

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Samm Quinn is a reporter at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. She can be reached at 317-477-3275 or squinn@greenfieldreporter.com.