Thanks, Marshall, for valuing pedestrian access
To the editor:
As you may have noticed, this summer has been a busy construction season, with lots of lovely overlays and reconstruction of portions of sidewalks and curb cuts that make it extra nice for all pedestrian endeavors, whether by foot, bicycle, scooter, skateboard or wheelchair (we all know the difference a smooth versus a rugged surface can make, both as far as safety and enjoyability).
Many years ago, I wandered into (former city engineer) Glenn Olson’s office and mentioned a handful of accessibility obstacles I had encountered while navigating the sidewalks, curb cuts, streets and intersections of Marshall. Not only was he open to hearing about and correcting these, when feasible, but he asked me if I’d be willing to do an annual assessment in this regard, making a kind of wish list of places that should be made priorities for improving pedestrian access across the Marshall community.
Ever since, I have done exactly this, reporting my findings to the City engineer’s office and to the Minnesota Department of Transportation. And what I have found over the years is that, as with my experience with Glenn years ago, not only have the responses to these evaluations continued to be well received, the City in particular has actually carried through with the suggestions offered to them time and time again.
This year the number of blacktop overlays and curb cut reconstructions has been enormous and seemingly unprecedented, in some cases in areas that have been specified for several years on my annual assessments. But this is the great thing, that the city of Marshall has not forgotten about these. If some of the changes seemed like a long time in coming, it’s been helpful to remember, as Glenn noted years ago, that they can only do so many a year, but they will eventually get to them.
So, above all, this is a big kudos and thank you to the City engineer’s office (I’m thinking in particular of Jason Anderson and Jessie Dehn, my primary contacts) for always listening to concerns regarding community access for pedestrians (and, more than listening, making the necessary changes). And not only on behalf of pedestrians with disabilities, but for everyone desiring to safely and enjoyably navigate the Marshall community by means other than their cars and trucks.
So, keep up the great work, City – your efforts are much appreciated.
— Ted Stamp is an independent living advocate with Southwestern Center for Independent Living