At a Aug. 13 Johns Creek City Council meeting, the council approved a construction contract for 2,100 feet of sidewalk connecting Buice Road to existing sidewalk on Autry Mill Road.
A few thousand feet of sidewalk may not seem like much, but it could have a meaningful impact on the residents of Falls at Autry Mill, the subdivision adjacent to the planned path. The new pavement will allow them to more safely walk, jog or bike around their neighborhood, and the more than 100 children who attend Dolvin Elementary will have the ability to walk to school.
But the reason I want to write about this piece of sidewalk isn’t because it could relieve school morning congestion or encourage a healthy lifestyle in the surrounding neighborhoods, although those things are important. I think this sidewalk is important because it almost didn’t happen.
The sidewalk initially came before the City Council at a work session June 4. The council members had some concerns about the sidewalk’s impact on storm water and the cost. Ultimately, they decided to table the project indefinitely.
That could have been the last the public heard about the sidewalk for months, but it wasn’t.
Five residents of the Falls subdivision spoke to the council during the public comment section of the following meeting on June 18.
Five voices compelled the council to reconsider their decision.
It’s easy to feel frustrated with our political system, especially when hyper-partisanship too often stalls sound governance, but stories like this remind me of how lucky we all are to live in a democracy, a country where the government is accountable to the people.
While more attention may be given to Washington D.C., and the Statehouse, local governing bodies often make the decisions that have the most impact on our daily lives.
They control the quality of the roads we drive on and the efficiency of the police and fire officers that protect us. These local governments are also the most accessible to us.
You may have something in your neighborhood you want to see improved, a road in need of repair or a dangerous intersection or a few thousand feet of sidewalk.
You should reach out to your local government, attend a meeting if you can, and make sure they hear your concerns.
And if any public officials are reading this, make sure you listen.
Of course, the city council and government employees can’t follow through on every request - they are bound by regulations and budgetary constraints – but they can always listen.
The governing process is slow-moving and tedious. Sometimes there will be improvements and sometimes there will be disappointments, but no matter the issue or the circumstance, your voice matters.