In the wake of public clamor for the city to focus on its sidewalks, the Olympia Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee discussed the issue during their meeting on September 22 as they presented updates on their Capital Facilities Plan (CFP).
Staff liaison Michelle Swanson explained the sidewalk repair issue, stating, “There has been some buzz in the community around repairing existing sidewalks– I wanted to remind you that we will be working on a policy around sidewalk repair next year.”
Chairperson Rebecca Brown shared that the committee must also make the public understand that public spaces such as sidewalks are not only meant for people in the act of walking.
“I would like to propose or suggest to the group when we write the letter, find a way to recognize that people who are walking aren't the only users of sidewalks. I'm talking about folks with disabilities and other users who aren't necessarily walking,” Brown said.
Bethany Roth, a committee member, also raised a concern during the meeting, specifically about the plan’s lack of regard for equity, implied by the absence of land acknowledgment.
“That equity is not highlighted more in this in the CFP. The city seems to be trying really hard to say, ‘we value equity,’ but I am not seeing it in this document of how you're funding projects that actually have this impact on community members that are experiencing various forms of oppression,” Roth commented.
Brown solicited more suggestions, most of which pertained to unifying the recommendations from the letter the subcommittee developed, the public comment, and recent concerns raised during the meeting.
"I do think Bethany's suggestion of land recognition… is a really interesting idea. I think there is some we wanna be liable for. That we do it in a meaningful way and not service either way. And in that final version of the draft, I do think we want to do it in an honest way," Brown added.
The CFP helps shape the quality of life in Olympia by funding projects needed to maintain levels of service and concurrency, according to their website.
The next meeting of the committee is scheduled on November 16, when the members would elect the new Chair and Vice Chair for 2023.
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