Smoother walking on the way

Wednesday, Oct. 26, broke clear and quiet in Madison Park - unless you count the sound and sight of a tractor tearing up the sidewalk in front of the Red Onion.

"It's not been 10 years and here we are," noted the city's Liz Ellis of SDOT Urban Forestry, referring to the last time this section of the sidewalk had undergone major repairs in 1998.

Ten lyrical sweet gum trees, living up to their reputation as proficient sidewalk-bucklers, were the culprits. Starting in late September the trees, planted in 1977, were taken down in two stages along a portion of the 4200 block of East Madison Street.

The trees had buckled the sidewalk enough to cause an alarming roll call of pedestrian injuries, including broken teeth, broken limbs and a broken back.

Doing something about the sidewalk became a priority for the city and the Madison Park Community Council.

So did funding.

The city's Office of Economic Development awarded a grant of $10,000 for the project, against the estimated $70,000 needed.

The city's grant was the first step in what became a community effort to raise the dollars.

"What tickles me about this project is the coalition of property owners, business owners, the city and the community," said Alice Lanczos, president of the community council.

New trees will be planted - crepe myrtle. "On the scale of trees apt to cause sidewalk heave," Ellis said, "they're at the low end. "Sweet gums are at the high end."

Businesses fronting the sidewalk had access quickly restored.

Ellis expects the new sidewalk to be in place "well before Thanksgiving." Good weather wouldn't hurt that goal, she added.[[In-content Ad]]