‘People end up walking in the street’: Lack of sidewalks in Richmond cause concern

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) – In the East End, residents are concerned about East Leigh Street. Instead of a sidewalk, there is gravel. mud, and a few bits of patchy grass.

“This is not an archaeological dig,” said Church Hill resident Tom Oristian, “this is our city. let’s take care of it.”

For the past four years, Tom Oristian and his family have called Church Hill home.

They live near the 2700 block of East Leigh Street, which is without a sidewalk.

“It’s strange that the sidewalks are incomplete here,” said Oristian, “people end up walking in the street.”

Right now the block is covered in dirt, patchy grass, as well as gravel.

“It gets muddy, it gets messy,” said Oristian.  “You know it’s a place where dogs poop and people don’t clean up their trash.”

Not only do residents like Oristian think the current block is not attractive for the neighborhood, but also not safe.

“People who are in motorized carts,” said Oristian.  “And they are in the streets because there is no sidewalk available.”

Oristian and several other neighbors have requested sidewalk installation over the years as well as earlier this month, with no reply from the city.

“It’s disconcerting you know the fact that there is definitely people who should be taking care of this stuff and don’t seem to really be fully committed,” said Oristian.

8News spoke with the Department of Public Works about Leigh street.

A spokesperson for the department says they received multiple requests but at this time there is no funding or immediate plans to install a sidewalk along that stretch.
An answer that doesn’t sit well with Oristian.

“That doesn’t mean that we’re accepting it, you, it’s just, it’s something that somebody needs to get done,” said Oristian.

8 news received a letter from a church hill resident that was also sent to city councilwoman doctor Cynthia Newbille a few weeks ago requesting sidewalk installation along Leigh street.

Good Morning Mrs. Newbille,

Over the past six months I’ve noticed a number of improvements being made to sidewalks in Church Hill which are by and large in good shape.  Notably, the north side of the 2800 Block of East Clay Street, the north side of the 2600 Block of East Clay Street and the East Side of the 400 Block of North 27th Street.

We live on the 2700 Block of East Leigh Street and called the Department of Public Works in October of 2015 to request sidewalk installation.  The Work order number is 200-209-919-38.  Additionally, we have submitted requests via the See Click Fix System, issue #3024020.  These requests have been unanswered by the City and the Public Works Department.

The public rights-of-way (I cannot call them sidewalks) on our block consist of dirt and gravel which become streams during times of heavy rain.  This forces neighbors and citizens to walk in the road for safety rather than on the “sidewalk.”  There is a public desire in the neighborhood to see unimproved “sidewalks” upgraded to improve aesthetics and quality of life as evidenced by the response on the See Click Fix system.

With the amount of private and public investment being made in the neighborhood and the amount of public investment being made in sidewalks which are in good repair, I would like to know what you are able to accomplish to move this ticket along.

Thank you in advance for your attention to this matter.

Drew Billups

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