The Town of Hamlet plans to extend the Starke Street sidewalk, but not everyone likes the idea. In a letter to the town council, residents Fred and Charlene Jensen said the town should focus on fixing streets, and they feel the curbs and sidewalk would be a waste of money.
Hamlet has applied for a Community Crossings grant to repair Starke Street from Plymouth Street to U.S. 30 and improve drainage issues. The work would pave the way for new curbs and gutters, as well as a new sidewalk along the west side of the street.
During Wednesday’s council meeting, President Dave Kesvormas stressed that fixing the road remains the top priority. “We are addressing drainage there and the sinkhole,” he explained, “and I think even with the intersection we just repaired, I think that’s taken a lot of the water away from their house.”
The Jensens were also concerned about having to shovel snow off the new sidewalk in the winter. Council member Brian Earnest suggested that the town might want to handle snow removal there, if the sidewalk is added. “A lot of that area is non-residential, too,” he said. “I mean, in all honesty, we’re building this sidewalk to benefit the townspeople who are walking all the way to the store and walking back, and if we’re going to spend the money on this project like we are, I think we should maintain that.”
But Kesvormas said the sidewalk would also bring benefits for local homeowners, as well. “I mean, they don’t see the pros and the cons in it,” he said. “If we put a sidewalk in front of your house, I think the assessed value goes up $5,000 to $10,000, correct? We can shovel the whole thing. It don’t take us that long. We have a Bobcat, right?”
Kesvormas added the road improvements will also include new approaches, alleviating concerns of the proposed curbs and sidewalks being damaged by truck traffic.
Also during Wednesday’s meeting, Street Superintendent Fred Rowe said he’s working with the Starke County Highway Department to schedule chip and seal work on Indiana Avenue.