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County Hosts Meeting on Divisive Evergreen Ave. Sidewalk Thursday

Though a number of residents remain vocal opponents of the project, officials plan to present neighbors with a schedule that has construction starting this month.

Two days after winning re-election as Homestead Valley's representative on the Marin County Board of Supervisors, Steve Kinsey might be in store for an earful.

Kinsey, who defeated Corte Madera resident Diane Furst Tuesday, is set to appear at a public meeting at Mill Valley City Hall Thursday at 6 p.m. The focus will be the controverial plan to in an effort to make the street safer for pedestrians and bicyclists.

The meeting's intent is simply to lay out the schedule for the project, which the and is set to begin later this month. But Kinsey and county officials are facing continued opposition from neighbors who think the sidewalk is simply a bad fit for the street. Two months after the Board of Supervisors approved the project and sent it out to bid - and - emails lists and online forums continue to show that opposition among some neighbors remains strong.

The Board of Supervisors and directed county public works officials to put the estimated $1 million project out to bid. The county selected Ghilotti Construction Company. A $900,000 Safe Routes to Schools grant will pay for the bulk of the project, county officials said.

Thursday's meeting will focus on the project's schedule, its impact on neighbors and any questions residents have about that impact, according to Scott Schneider, an associate civil engineer with the county. In advance of the meeting, county officials staked the sidewalk layout in several locations to indicate its 5-foot width.

Heated debate has surrounded the idea of building a sidewalk along a 2,000-foot stretch of Evergreen, with much of it centering on  and some residents’ resentment of the traffic the school brings to the neighborhood.

The sidewalk would extend from Mill Valley city limits (250 feet east of Ethel Avenue) to the intersection with Melrose, where the school is located. It includes curbs and gutters, six new crosswalks, 11 accessible curb ramps, 29 new driveway aprons and myriad drainage improvements.

Opponents of the project engaged in a largely Internet-driven campaign to get the project stopped in 2010, and county officials delayed it from its original June 2011 construction start in order to address community concerns. Residents  over whether the majority of nearby residents supported the sidewalk or not, and county Public Works Director Bob Beaumont said a survey of property owners along Evergreen in 2011 indicated that “a very clear and strong majority of them support the sidewalk.”

The project seemed to get back on track with after a  and the county’s decision to reduce the width of the sidewalk from 6 feet to 5 feet to lessen the impact on street parking and aesthetics.

County Principal Civil Engineer Ernest Klock said construction is expected to begin soon after Marin Horizon School ends its school year on June 8. County officials expect to finish the project by mid-August.

Annie June 06, 2012 at 02:24 PM
I love the idea of a sidewalk on Evergreen! I personally have dodged too many cars over the years, when walking my dog. I'm hoping the actual street will be topped with a new coat. It's such a patchwork and deteriorating, due to major underground work a few years ago. It could be a nice compromise for the residents of this great street. If I lived on Evergreen, I would view this as a real improvement to the neighborhood.
Mari June 06, 2012 at 02:48 PM
The County's survey on April 3rd was based on 78% of South side property owners who contacted the DPW to find out how their frontage would be affected. When we compared the numbers - County's "majority" county turned out to be 49% of 100%. County has not given residents a complete mock up to show how the North side will be affected.
Heather June 06, 2012 at 03:23 PM
I, too, walk my dog along Evergreen three mornings a week, and will be glad to have a sidewalk to do it on!
Hugh June 06, 2012 at 10:05 PM
Seriously folks - first there are untold (legitimate) complaints about Marin Horizon traffic, and Marin Horizon has worked hard to try to mitigate the neighborhood concerns - a lot harder than MVSD has done to reduce traffic by it's schools. One obvious way to mitigate traffic is to get the kids out of the cars - but that isn't going to happen near Marin Horizon if the parents feel the walking route is unsafe. The neighborhood can't have it both ways and in my view should step back and be darn grateful for the $900k grant that is going to IMPROVE their neighborhood at no cost to them personally. Sheesh.
Robert Cogswell June 06, 2012 at 10:27 PM
Hugh, You have, perhaps unintentionally, made the argument of the anti-sidewalk faction: $900k does dangle like the golden carrot, doesn't? And there is no anti-path faction; all are for safety, but many would like to have input on the design they will have to live with the rest of their lives. And, finally, "at no cost to them" is not true. All the property owners on the south side of the street will, in perpetuity, be saddled with the full cost of ongoing maintenance. Only the build cost is covered, and that is wrapped up in the larger project which includes street re-paving, now covered by the grant. Can you see a county interest here? I can.
Mari June 06, 2012 at 11:09 PM
Annie - I'm sure some people welcome the "idea" of a sidewalk or path - where none currently exists - neighborhood volunteers have even offered to build one ourselves, with no cooperation from anyone from MHS. It is the implementation of this particular sidewalk that is the problem. THIS IMPERVIOUS CONCRETE SIDEWALK is about money, political influence and "convenience." It was never about safety - because it MAKES NO SENSE to physically alter a road that has a 100% safety record, to make it more like an area where there was an accident. Marin County can afford to pave the road - they are just too CHEAP to give the DPW the funding - so they are accepting this $900,000 grant - which was awarded to an application that contained inaccurate and misleading information - to do it. Shameful, to say the least.
Frank Lurz June 06, 2012 at 11:23 PM
Why, Heather? Can you tell us what it is, precisely, about the sidewalk that will make you so "glad?" In particular, can you tell us why making you "glad" supersedes the desire of the owners of all the green ribbons, displayed up and down the length of Evergreen, who would be MORE than glad to have their neighborhood left unmolested? Supervisor Steve "Red Tag" Kinsey asked Mari Tamburo what the big deal was — asked her why she cared so much about the sidewalk. My answer to Kinsey was that if he had to ask the question, he couldn't understand the answer. Is that it for you, too? Is it that you just don't get it, or is it that you just don't care? Do you care about your dog? How do you feel about the endangered species of steelhead trout in the creek alongside the road? You care about that?
Lippy June 07, 2012 at 12:15 AM
Hugh writes: "that isn't going to happen near Marin Horizon if the parents feel the walking route is unsafe." Q: If the parents (and the school) feel that having their kids walking down the center of Evergreen Ave. is unsafe, why aren't they DEMANDING that the students walk on the existing grassway where the proposed illegal sidewalk is slated for? Every day Marin Horizon students walk on the street instead of on the grassway/gravelway. Picture this Fall when the $1 million dollar slab is baking in sun looking gleaming and inviting -- and all of the students are STILL walking down the center of the street. "Oh, the school will insist they use the sidewalk" I hear you propose. If the school can insist on sidewalk use in 3 months why won't they insist that the CURRENT alternatives to walking in the center of the road are utilized? Hey -- it's all arguing in a bag, folks. This deal was done YEARS ago. The only way to stop the bulldozers is with our naked bodies. Or Litigation.
Frank Lurz June 07, 2012 at 01:06 AM
Sorry, don't mean to be difficult, but if the complaints are "untold," how do you know about them, Ouija Board? As for Horizon Corp. working hard to try to mitigate neighborhood concerns, that's a fiction — they've done no such thing! The only reason the traffic nightmare they inflicted on us was mitigated is that it was demanded as a condition for Horizon Corp.'s development project and the increase it wanted in its client population. That Horizon Corp. "worked" harder than MVSD to reduce traffic is neither an established fact, nor even relevant! This is not about the Mill Valley School District. As for getting kids out of their cars, that's never going to happen. That's up to parents, and over the years they've made it plain they find the walk from Whole Foods an intolerable inconvenience. Sidewalk or no, the number of kids and parents walking from Whole Foods isn't going to change. That will be painfully evident after the damage is done. What will you say to Evergreen residents then? "Sheesh?"
Citizen June 07, 2012 at 01:06 AM
I agree with you, Heather. I will be glad to have a sidewalk there.
Scott June 07, 2012 at 05:09 PM
Will this ever end? The neighborhood supports a sidewalk, the residents on Evergreen support a sidewalk, only a small minority, a very vocal, yet childish, minority are opposed to it. The DPW's survey confirms what we've been saying all along. These anti-sidewalkers produce a survey and, to the shock of no one, it kinda supports their position. The DPW doesn't have a dog in this fight, if this project goes away none of them lose their jobs, they just move on to the next project. The anti-sidewalkers are the chief protagonists so no survey they produce is reliable. It's a very small, barely noticeable (how many even realized there was a sidewalk on Hawthorne?), 8" high pathway. From their bellyaching, one would think they're putting in an office building right smack in the middle of the street! The most humorous, and telling, aspect of this is they cannot accept they're in the minority, they cannot accept they're wrong. They blame all their failings on some mystical conspiracy theory of money, power and political influence. They don't have a shred of evidence of any of this (because it's not true). The only proof they offer is that they've lost so obviously the fix must be in. Childish. They keep threatening to sue. I really wish they do. Then a jury will pile on and show them to be in the wrong, again. Obviously the reason they aren't suing is because they know they've got a loser of a case. Truly laughable. And sad.
Frank Lurz June 07, 2012 at 10:51 PM
"Scott" sermonizes as if he knows what he's talking about — he doesn't! "Scott" pontificates as though his opinions are facts — they aren't! Inferring that those who conducted the sidewalk survey are dishonest, our Horizon Corp. toady declares the sidewalk survey unreliable, adding that those against the development are a "small minority." The green ribbons of protest adorning mail boxes, fences and trees all along the near half-mile stretch of Evergreen prove otherwise. Arrogantly insulting residents whose opinions differ from his, "Scott," says they're "wrong" and berates them as "childish" and "losers." "Scott" says DPW doesn't have a "dog" in this fight. Maybe not, but somebody does. We may not know the name of the dog owner, but we do know the name of the dog!
Mari June 10, 2012 at 11:49 PM
Scott, what you fail to realize is that no matter how many people you lobby for the "idea" of a sidewalk, it doesn't change FACTS : County cannot blatantly ignore proper procedure and ordinances. Laws exist to protect lives and property. I find it very interesting that you comment on other Patch stories complaining about government interference and being over taxed, but still you continue to insist that it is OK for people who don't live on Evergreen to force this slab on property owners who don't want it. What's up with that??
Scott June 11, 2012 at 03:45 AM
Mari, you have rose colored glasses on. We both heard the DPW say they surveyed most of the residents on Evergreen and a strong majority suport it. I know you've been spinning that survey to lessen its impact, but you cannot deny it, a strong majority support a sidewalk. The process could've been better but to say community input was not heard or adhered to, is completely false. Keith got 90 signatures that resulted in a year-long delay in the project. And most of what the they were asking for they got! Your problem is you didn't get your way and cannot live with it. You had ample opportunity to be heard on your perceived illegalities and you haven't been convincing. Do you really think the county lawyers haven't reviewed every issue, particularly after the way you've carried on the last few years? I know they have. And really, this is a major thoroughfare into and out of HV, everyone in HV should have a voice on this issue. Taking your point to its logical conclusion, you shouldn't have a voice either since the sidewalk is being installed on the other side of the street from you. If you really don't value the voices of non Evergreen residents, then why do you give any credence to Frank and Charles? Because they agree with you? (On another note, really why do you pay them any heed? They don't help your cause. I had a guy tell me just last week he initially was somewhat indifferent, 60/40, on the sidewalk but after the shenanigans you all caused he's 100% for it.)
Tracey M Pharis June 12, 2012 at 10:40 AM
heather, how long have you lived homestead valley? I have lived here all my life. i have walked, bicycled roller skated walked my dog etc along evergreen avenue. people respected each other and their space. people back in the day kept to themselves and went on their merry way regardless whether there were cars going up n down the road. so before u get happy about a man made non greem sidewalk that i guaranree will never get used, take a long hard look and see whats at stake during this very unnecessary traffic bombarding mess they call sidewalk installation!
Tracey M Pharis June 12, 2012 at 10:45 AM
Evergreen is nothing compared to the condition of miller ave! we absolutely do not need a side walk on evergreen!!
Tracey M Pharis June 12, 2012 at 10:47 AM
Im with Frank..Thank you!!!
Tracey M Pharis June 12, 2012 at 10:49 AM
yep exactly
Tracey M Pharis June 12, 2012 at 11:00 AM
u know what? ok here it is in black and white! I have lived here in homestead valley all my life. there has never been an accident involving any 1 pedestrian, therefore there is no harm with using evergreen instead of some sidewalk thats not necessary. We are all homestead valley residents, obviously with mixed emotions, however this is not solving the problem at hand! We as a community need to act accordingly. unfortunately there are more against the side walk than there are for it. SO basically this side walk is now going in, at a major cost to us all, not to mention going to limit street parking narrowed streets and added dangers of someone getting hurt because of concrete barriers along side the streets and cars patking infront of the barriers leaving a pathway for both cars and pedestrians to walk, say good bye to dog walking for many years, this project will wind up losing funding and taking forever to complete before it really gets started. It will be any eye sore and a even more hazardous situation!!! Thank You!!!!
Mari July 12, 2012 at 03:41 PM
Hugh - go take a look at Evergreen and tell me if you honestly think what has been done so far is an "improvement."

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