June 12, 2021
Lawrence, US 86 F

Tom Harper: Safe sidewalks are a worthwhile challenge (Column)

Note: The Lawrence Times runs opinion columns and letters to the Times written by community members with varying perspectives on local issues. These pieces do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Times staff.

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Recently I was walking in Old West Lawrence and came across a brick sidewalk renovation. It is located on the south side of Seventh street between Mississippi and Illinois Streets.

The orange color spray painted on many concrete sidewalks means the repair is the responsibility of the homeowner, and white spray paint markers convey that the city will take care of the designated areas.

I laid a brick sidewalk at 1146 Connecticut St. between the rear entry and parking pad several years ago. I know how much work is involved to get the job done right. When you add tree roots and uneven ground, it gets even more complicated. I sometimes see similar sidewalk renovations in the older sections of town, but not often.

The reason it is rare? The work is labor-intensive; it requires skill and/or it is costly to hire a professional.

Tom Harper/@lawrencemodern A brick sidewalk was undergoing renovations at Seventh and Mississippi streets on April 22, 2021.

Let me remind everyone, it is a state law that homeowners are responsible for maintaining the sidewalks.

I applaud the current City Commission for addressing this problem that has been ignored for years. It is a divisive issue that garners little political gain, but is an important part of our city’s infrastructure that is currently not safe and an integral part of the historic nature of our core neighborhoods.

It will be interesting to see how the city and future Lawrence city commissioners address the deterioration of brick sidewalks. For now, the current approach seems like a good one: Address the concrete sidewalks first. We should all be able to navigate sidewalks safely.

Many thanks to the homeowner located at Seventh and Mississippi who is taking this project on for the many people who walk this stretch of sidewalk — whether they live in Old West Lawrence, East Lawrence, west Lawrence, Douglas County, or are visitors from New York, safe sidewalks are for everyone.

About the writer
About the writer

Tom Harper is a Realtor at Stephens Real Estate helping people in Lawrence and Douglas County buy and sell real estate. He is the founder of Lawrence Modern, a group whose mission is to raise awareness of midcentury and modern architecture. You will find him posting frequently on Instagram under @lawrencemodern, sharing his daily observations of his favorite place on earth: Lawrence, Kansas.

Tom Harper/@lawrencemodern A brick sidewalk was undergoing renovations at Seventh and Mississippi streets on April 22, 2021.
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