A group of residents of Brookhaven’s Lynwood Park is asking the City Council to find ways to fund safe sidewalks in the historic neighborhood. The narrow roads and broken sidewalks are unsafe for pedestrians, such as moms with strollers, who want to walk in the neighborhood, according to a newly formed civic group.
Mayor John Ernst, who lives in Lynwood Park, and Councilmember Linley Jones recently hiked the stretch of Osborne Road from Windsor Parkway to Lynwood Park with a group of moms and their children, many in strollers.
They walked over crumbling sidewalks and past mailboxes jutting into a pedestrians’ paths. They watched as other parents pushed strollers in the street.
The historic neighborhood, once an African American enclave, is now filled with newer, large houses and characterized by gentrification. The narrow roads that created an intimate environment are now heavily traveled by motorists.
With the possibility of a massive park redevelopment should a $40 million parks bond referendum pass, residents say they need relief to get around their neighborhood safely as more people visit the neighborhood to use the park’s amenities.
“If we can improve sidewalks, that would help with the narrow streets,” said Sara Shinnick, an eight-year resident of the neighborhood who helped create the new Lynwood Park Civic Association. “People are always just flying through here.”
There are 450 homes in Lynwood Park. A community center for the park was once a school for the black residents living there before desegregation forced them into Cross Keys High School. Multi-use fields are popular destination spots for the neighborhood and visitors.
Jones said one of the challenges the city faces is the very narrow right of way it owns in the neighborhood. She said yards likely would be taken to retrofit the current 50-year-old sidewalks into wider versions that meet federal Americans With Disabilities Act standards.
“Ideally, we have an ADA-compliant sidewalk on Osborne Road that is usable by all,” she said.
Jones has asked staff to complete a citywide sidewalk survey to determine the conditions of current sidewalks. The proposed 2019 budget only has
$300,000 set aside for sidewalks, she said.
Jones said installing more sidewalks is a priority of the council as it moves toward creating walkable communities. Last year, approximately two miles of sidewalks were installed.
In Lynwood Park, a quick, cheap way to help with safety is for the city to paint a crosswalk near the park. That can slow down drivers and provides safety for walkers going to and from the park, Jones said.
The city is conducting a survey of what would need to be done to install ADA-compliant sidewalks on Osborne Road and surveying the right of way to define parcel-by-parcel what would need to be done and how homes would be affected, Jones said.
The survey should not only put a price tag on what it would cost to put in new sidewalks in Lynwood Park but also give insight into community impact, she said.
Shinnick said she moved to Lynwood Park because of its charm. She just recently learned of its historical significance, however. The Lynwood Park Civic Association includes members from the “old neighborhood” she said, including former students at the school before it was desegregated and who don’t live there anymore.
“We want to bring the old neighborhood and the new neighborhood together with this Lynwood Park Civic Association,” she said. The new group may hold a “Heritage Day” next year, she added.
Jones said people move to Lynwood Park to be part of a charming neighborhood, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t work to improve the conditions if they can.
“There’s nothing charming or historic about crumbling infrastructure,” she said.