Councilwoman Diane R. Evans didn't expect quite so much grief from asidewalk.
But a small community in north Severna Park is complaining furiously that a new sidewalk won't be the safety measure it's touted to be.
North Cape Arthur residents have for months worried about the safety of their children, who walk from the playground of the community elementary school to their homes along Arundel Beach Road.
But a number of residents charge that the county's solution to the problem -- a 200-foot-long sidewalk -- may be worse than the problem itself.
"People are upset because they feel the real safety issues have notbeen addressed," said David Mauriello, a North Cape Arthur resident.The sidewalk the county plans to build would extend from the playground of the Folger McKinsey Elementary School along Arundel Beach Roadto Derussey Drive.
"It's only of benefit to people in the Fair Oaks community," said Mauriello. "People who walk the rest of Arundel Beach Road, like Whitehurst, will not be helped."
Evans counters that she studied the sidewalk proposal for two months and concluded that suggested alternatives would not make the children's walk home safer. The suggestions included flashing lights and a cross-walk.
"Thetraffic safety people don't feel flashing lights will do the kind ofjob that would be necessary," says Evans. "Also, there's a speeding problem on Arundel Beach Road. There's a very dangerous curb. The community proposed (putting) a cross-walk right there, but because of the blind curb, the safety experts felt that isn't a viable alternative."
However, the North Cape Arthur Association issued a press release last week, insisting that the 200-foot sidewalk project "has been rejected twice since it was first proposed several years ago, and that (traffic controllers) at the Public Works Department . . . are doing Ms. Evan's bid."
"Apparently, Ms. Evan's first priority is to serve the interests of her friends in Fair Oaks over the needs and concerns of Whitehurst Community residents," said Reuben Johnson, who resides in North Cape Arthur.
The North Cape Arthur residents are also upset over the way the matter was handled. "We were told by people in the county's Community Service Office in October that if we objected, the sidewalk wouldn't be built," said Mauriello.
At a Nov. 18 North Cape Arthur Association meeting attended by 30 community homeowners, eight voted in favor of the sidewalk and 22 opposed it.
"We just found out when we found people putting stakes in our lawn that adecision had been made for the sidewalk," said Mauriello. "We were told Mrs. Evans was involved now, and it was up to her to decide. It became a political decision. A lot of people are very upset that our vote was rendered meaningless by this process, and basically the county ignored us."
Evans said the county plans to extend the sidewalk the length of Arundel Beach Road.
She also disputed Mauriello's statement that the county cannot extend the sidewalk because it does not own the right of way.
"I didn't take my position lightly," she adds. "It's the consensus of the entire community, not just the peopleof North Cape Arthur, that it is a good decision."
Evans denied rumors that property owners would be liable for accidents on the sidewalk in front of their homes and that spending the money is an imprudent move.
"The county would be responsible for accidents," she said. "We checked. And these monies are bond monies that would not be saved even if we didn't spend them here. They would be spent elsewhere on a sidewalk project."
In North Cape Arthur, several dozen residents still aren't satisfied. "We petitioned (County Executive) Bob Neall's office, and they said he's not going to change his mind," said Mauriello.