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Residents argue over Temple Hills pathways

Some dispute the developer's original intent for the easements, with some saying it's for pedestrians and other saying it's for utilities.

November 17, 2011|By Barbara Diamond

Eleven speakers weighed in at Tuesday's City Council meeting on a proposal for pedestrian improvements in Temple Hills.

City staff culled that proposal, along with some others, from the Complete Streets Task Force's recommendations.

The council ultimately approved a $295,000 allocation for six proposed Complete Streets projects. Details for the pedestrian improvements, whose suggested funding is $100,000, were not revealed.

"I know a lot of people in that area, and some of them are completely entrenched in that, 'There will not be any pathway next to my house, and I will take it to court, and I don't care what it costs,'" said former Environmental Chairman Chris Prelitz. "I can't see pulling [$100,000] form the Complete Streets budget because there is a high likelihood of this not being successfully completed in our lifetimes."

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At least one speaker supported the project.

"I support the staff recommendations to set aside money until a viable project can be identified," said Doug Cortez, a Temple Hills Neighborhood Assn. member. "Temple Hills is really not divided on this issue. Every homeowner adjacent to the easements is opposed to converting them to public staircases and paths, and all the neighbors nearby have also spoken out on them."

The neighborhood group was formed to challenge the long-standing Temple Hills Community Assn., which supports public pathways down the hillside from Thurston Street to lower Temple Hills Drive.

Six speakers opposed developing identified easements as public pathways, some of which are already in use.

Stephanie Webster said that she was informed of an easement near the home she bought in Temple Hills, but she said it is only for utilities. She has retained an attorney to preserve that status.

Others contend that the pathways were identified by the Temple Hills developer for pedestrian access.

"I don't see how the city can even question that this pathway [No. 4] is a legitimate pedestrian corridor," Dorothea Yellott said. "I can testify from personal experience that my family, friends and many neighbors have used this pathway since the early '70s. The previous owners' children told my children where it was."

Yellott said the recent addition of gravel to the pathway has made it slippery, but closing it would pose an even greater risk for residents walking to and from downtown and school.

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