Lufkin using grant money to expand sidewalks; resident opposes plans over safety concern

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - A multi-million dollar project aims to connect a couple parks and schools in Lufkin by creating a safe path to walk to each one. However, one resident does not feel the sidewalk expansion project will meet its goal.

"I really don't see any good coming from it," said Lufkin resident Gail Cummings.

Cummings heavily opposes the new sidewalk project proposed by The City of Lufkin, which would affect her and her neighbors near chambers park.

"I don't think they've considered the fact that when someone comes really close to your home at night, walking, that people will be in fear of their life. And, there could be a lot of tragedy come from that, in the form of defending their home," said Cummings.

As a part of a statewide enhancement grant from The Texas Department of Transportation, the city will receive one-million seven-hundred dollars to build paths connecting several schools and parks on Feagin, Kurth, and York streets. The main idea is to provide a safe route to move about the city.

"The main pros are it's just safety. It takes one park to another park, tying the park trails together not only for exercise, but also for children walking home from school," said Lufkin Mayor Bob Brown.

Cummings says the sidewalk on Feagin street will take away lawn space from homeowners, making it dangerous for kids to play in the front yard.

"I think it's important that these children's homes and their property and their yards be protected and not taken from them," said Cummings.

Lufkin Deputy City Manager, Keith Wright, says he's heard these complaints, but feels the pros outweigh the cons.

"I understand their concerns. You got to weigh that with the other things, you know, the benefits of the project," said Wright.

However, the council can create a new sidewalk plan if enough residents are concerned about their safety.

"That would be a big step back, but you know, we're here to serve. And, if that's what council wants to do, that's what we'll do," said Wright.

The city says the design of the sidewalk system has been done and the grant has been awarded. 400 thousand of the city's dollars will be used to help fund the project. The next step, Wright says, will be for bids to be made to complete construction. Mayor Brown expects construction to take up to six months.

Cummings is passing around a petition, hoping to get the city council to change their minds and draw up a new plan.

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