Whether you’re a student or resident of West Chester, you have probably noticed the poor condition of the sidewalks in certain areas of town.”They’re horrible,” said Krista Jowder, a first-year student, regarding the condition of the sidewalks. “When I go running I need to constantly look down, and I never know what’s coming.”
A large portion of students at West Chester live off-campus and walk to class everyday. One would think that with the amount of pedestrians walking downtown from the university, or surrounding areas, the condition of the sidewalks would be a priority for the West Chester borough. Many students don’t realize that the West Chester borough is not responsible for maintanance of the sidewalks, the property owners are.
If you have never walked down the sidewalks of Walnut, Matlack, Neilds, Lacey, or Linden Street, then you may be unpleasantly surprised with the poor conditions of those pedestrian walksways. The sidewalks in those areas are extremely uneven, and many are missing bricks.
“When it’s dark outside and you’re trying to walk back to your dorm, you trip due to the uneven, and missing bricks that are supposed to be in the sidewalks,” said Jeremy Boyd, a 20-year-old WCU student.
The gaps in some sidewalks can turn a simple walk into a dangerous endeavor, especially in the rain. Massive puddles gather in the delapidated sidewalks, and students have to leap across the great lakes in order to arrive to class on time. Then, during the winter months, the sidewalk lakes freeze and students have to slide their way to class.
Some sidewalks are made of concrete rather than brick. The concrete sidewalks, however, aren’t in any better condition than the brick sidewalks. Many are cracked and broken and just as difficult to navigate. Students reside in much of the area, and although they are only temporary residents, they contribute a great deal to the community
According to Robert Wilpizeski, the Director of Public Works, West Chester Borough is responsible for maintenance and repairs of borough properties only. If students want something done about the sidewalks, then they should file complaints with their landlords, who can then pass on the complaints to the homeowners. The West Chester Office of Building and Housing supposedly passes out warnings and citations to property owners who do not keep sidewalks in repair, and by contacting this office students may be able to spark homeowners to action.
The West Chester Borough, as well as the property owners, need to recognize the fact that the downtown sidewalks are a serious safety issue.
West Chester Borough should take responsibility for their sidewalks. The borough could use some of the funds brought in by their parking deparment to repair the them. Permanent residents would like to see their children playing and riding bikes on safe and level sidewalks. The old brick walkways may be reminiscent of historic West Chester, but it’s time to move into the twenty-first century.