Does the University Hills neighborhood need new sidewalks? More than two-dozen residents of the northern Hyattsville neighborhood don't think so.
On Monday night, the Hyattsville City Council accepted a series of petitions from University Hills residents opposed to the installation of new sidewalks on their streets.
Last week, city officials held a series of contentious community meetings to review preliminary design proposals for an overhaul of the University Hills streetscape. The project, dubbed "University Hills Green Streets", calls for the installation of sidewalks throughout the neighborhood.
The anti-sidewalk petitions contain the signatures of 26 residents in 20 households living on four different blocks in University Hills.
Each of the petitions bears similar language opposing the installation of new sidewalks. The reasons cited are many, including lack of space, "inordinate engineering challenges and costs", a loss of street side tree canopy, and that the sidewalks would change the character of the neighborhood.
Hyattsville has a sidewalk policy which calls for at least one strip of sidewalk "on every block of every city-maintained street."
The city council's acceptance of the petitions does not mean that those streets are saved from pedestrian improvements. A majority of the city council must still vote to exclude an area from a sidewalk improvement project.
However, petitions are not a fruitless act. The city's sidewalk policy says that petitions bearing signatures of the majority of property owners in a given area are one of the few listed reasons for the council to consider skipping on nearby pedestrian improvements.