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Doraville Residents Angry Over Stimulus-funded Sidewalk | News

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Doraville Residents Angry Over Stimulus-funded Sidewalk
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DORAVILLE, GA -- In Doraville, this is what the federal stimulus looks like:  Wet cement, poured to build a sidewalk along Central Avenue near the Doraville MARTA station.  It's a project paid for with 160,000 federal dollars.

And to Tom Hart, a former Doraville city council member, the project is a civic punch line.

"What is the point of putting a sidewalk in, if the entire sidewalk is lined with a telephone pole right in the center?" Hart asks, gesturing at telephone poles that poke out of the middle of the gleaming new sidewalk.

"I mean, it's not (Americans with Disabilities Act) compatible. It's hardly pedestrian compatible.  Like if two people -- if you and I were walking down here side by side, you'd have to wait for one person to get past the pole, then the other person to get past the pole," said Hart.

 

An aide to Doraville's mayor, Luke Howe, says there's an explanation.   The city couldn't afford to move the telephone poles.  Nor did it have time to widen the sidewalk onto the adjacent private property -- lest the stimulus money disappear.  So the poles and the sidewalk stayed put.

 

"So we didn't have any choice but to go through the poles," said Howe.

Doraville officials say the problem is fixable though.  As soon as the federal stimulus money is spent, they say they can remove a portion of the curb they just built --  and rebuild the sidewalk around the poles.

Tom Hart says that only adds to the civic punch line.

"They got some stimulus money.   And as the guy told me, 'well, if we did it wrong, we'll tear it out and do it over again. We've got plenty of stimulus money.'"  Hart doesn't identify the city official who told him that.
 
Howe says the fix-up is no big deal.  "We'll have to knock out that curb. But we'll just swing it out and it's something that should only take a day."
 
Doraville officials say the sidewalk and the federal funding make sense.  The design, and the obstructive poles, are an unimportant and temporary hiccup, they say. 

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