Taxpayer questions costly sidewalk

7:36 PM, Jul 2, 2012   |    comments
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MARIETTA, Ga - Dave Peterson is complaining that wider isn't necessarily better after Cobb County spent more than three quarters of a million dollars to double the width of the sidewalk near his home.

In May, the county finished replacing a one mile stretch of sidewalk on Roswell Road near Johnson Ferry Road in Marietta. The cost was $887,131.

There was nothing wrong with the five foot wide sidewalk that was there. The county used a federal grant and money from a special option sales tax to build a ten foot wide path for pedestrians and cyclists.

Dave Peterson thinks it's a waste.

"I don't think that many people use it to justify spending that amount of money," said Peterson. "It's not being used any more than it was before when it was a narrower sidewalk."

A spokesperson for the county disagrees.

"We checked with our staff and over the weekend they saw families out riding bicycles," said Robert Quigley. "It's a project that was bid out, federal grants came in to assist us with it, and it's a project that's getting plenty of use."

The federal share to widen the one mile stretch of concrete was $346,000. Cobb County paid for the rest of the expenses, including $272,000 to obtain right of way from nearby property owners.

Peterson insists the narrow sidewalk was perfectly fine.

But the sales tax approved by voters in 2011 included a provision for improved sidewalks. Quigley says the Roswell Road area is busy with neighborhoods and businesses. The widened patch connects travelers to another section of ten foot sidewalk that leads to a park two miles away.

Still, 11Alive asked Quigley if wider sidewalks were a big enough priority to justify the cost.

"I think this is one person contacted Channel 11 to complain," said Quigley. "We appreciate their concern. We understand. At the same time, we're here to serve the entire community and sidewalks are a priority in Cobb County."

Quigley said the county wants to extend the widened pedestrian/bike path further down Roswell Road to the Fulton County line, but currently doesn't have the funds.

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