On my way to class, I swung by 721 N. Catherine, site of six mighty firs threatened by the city's proposed round of sidewalk installation for the coming year. I was curious: just how close are the trees to the proposed walkway?
I can see the Gwynnes' problem: we'd need to strip a lot of branches just to make room for a paving stone walkway, like what Ms. Schave recommends, right next to the curb.
The trees do form a good windbreak, protecting the house from the stiff north winds on the western edge of Madison. Given the electric rate increases in town, I'd want to keep any energy-saving advantage I had.
In other news from the street, I checked out Mr. Gilbert's complaint that a sidewalk on his West Avenue property (which is east of Catherine Ave.) "will lead to a dead end as 7th Street does not continue through." It's not quite a "dead end": to the east, 7th Steeet makes a T with Chicago Ave., which heads straight north to the elementary school.
But here's where I sympathize completely with Mr. Gilbert: He notes that the city ordinance requires "All work to be constructed by licensed contractors in accordance with standard City of Madison specifications..." (clause 8 in each of the City's sidewalk ordinances).
Last year, my brother and his hired man installed a sidewalk all by themselves. Is there any reason the city should prohibit a couple enterprising fellas with a skid steer and some forms from doing their own work? I can understand the requirement to build sidewalks for public safety, but the requirement to hire an expensive contractor when a homeowner is perfectly capable of doing the work himself sounds like more favoritism for the city's chosen business buddies.
Also on tonight's City Commission agenda, on the very last page of the packet: Craig Williams' application for a Sidewalk Builder's license. Fee $20; required bond, $500. Brad, consider submitting your application!
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