Letter to the editor: Brandon, Forest Dale sidewalks also deserve attention

The start of the Segment 6 Route 7 project in Brandon has spurred several interesting side conversations, one being how much people like the old-style lamp post street lights around the park. I admit even I like the looks of them but will reserve final judgment until they are lit and working.
Another conversation that has been brought up is the hope that the other streets in Brandon receive the same kind of care and maintenance and upgrades as Route 7 is receiving. That makes me laugh, as the side streets won’t be getting 20 million dollars’ worth of funding from the Federal government. The main reason the Route 7 project is happening is because the Feds are paying 95 percent of the cost. And I strongly suspect that once this project and the Town Office Bridge and Park Street projects are done you will see very little major construction happening in Brandon for a long time, barring some sort of disaster.
Paving will likely be about the extent of road upkeep and maybe some bridge replacements periodically. Other than that, forget about the side streets getting any major work done to them.
This brings about the third large area of discussions — sidewalks — especially in poor forgotten Forest Dale. The section of Route 53 from the corner starting just below the Living Water church going up to Forest Brook development is in dire need of sidewalks. The number of people who walk that section of road take their lives in their hands.
Several years ago, there was a discussion about being able to tap into State money for sidewalks that help for school safety. This section was specifically mentioned. I seem to remember that was about the time Brandon had little to no confidence in the Town Manager and Board and budgets were voted down more than once. However, lest I forget, Park Street and their sidewalks are more important than any other section of town.
To be sure Forest Dale isn’t the only dangerous section without sidewalks. The Hill on Union Street and Barlow Avenue intersection is also dangerous. I am just as surprised people have not been killed at this location or the Forest Dale area. Some of the old narrow sidewalks like the one up near the Playground on Seminary Hill need attention badly as well.
Infrastructure is a vital part in attracting families and businesses to a town. Many people think the Route 7 project will be the saving grace for Brandon. I disagree and my opinions on the destruction of this once beautiful historic town are well known. However, if the town doesn’t have safe sidewalks for children to walk to school or the store or any number of locations, it is a detriment to the community.
It would be great to see Brandon bond for major sidewalk improvements and construction in Brandon and Forest Dale. And maybe some of the local option tax that Brandon levies could be used in these improvements. After all, these are your children, family and friends that walk the streets with no sidewalks. How would you feel if a police officer came to your door telling you that your loved one was involved in a pedestrian accident?
Brandon has a sad history of putting off until tomorrow what should be done today. This even goes back to my days on the Board in the 1980’s and before. It all comes down to a matter of priorities. Are Brandon’s in the right place? Not that can be seen and evidenced by me. Budget time is fast approaching. What better time to start the process than now to be ready for March 2019 Town Meeting.
Brian E. Fillioe

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