Van Buren Receives $300,000 Grant For New Sidewalks

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VAN BUREN (KFSM)-- Van Buren residents have been saying something is missing from their town.

Joe Hurst, the city’s planning director, said there are very few sidewalks in Van Buren, and the ones that do exist need to be repaired.

“We’ve been hearing from people as we develop the master parks plan, we heard from a lot of people in the community and a lot of those people talked about having places to run,” Hurst said.

The city received a federal grant for $300,000 to put in sidewalks, one mile down Rena Road starting at Highway 59.

“In this particular area with the recent widening of the street, with the school, with the neighborhoods, this is really going to improve that area, so people and children who go to school there are going to have a place that's a lot safer,” Hurst said.

When the road was widened the city compensated some property owners for taking portions of their yards, and Hurst said that included plans for the sidewalks, so no more property will be lost.

“Originally we had kind of planned on sidewalks for that project, so we have a lot of that work finished, but we kind of had a deadline for funding for that widening, so we chose to do the sidewalks later,” Hurst said.

With Rena Elementary just down the road, many people in the neighborhood say the sidewalks will make it safer.

“I think it will help the children being able to walk and be safer,” Darla Jones, a member of Rena Road Baptist Church, said.

Jones also said sidewalks will make it easier for joggers and bikers to stay out of harm’s way.

“My husband and I ride bikes, and I think that it would help us, more or less stay off the streets and can travel safer ourselves on our bicycles,” Jones said.

Hurst said the grant covers about 70 percent of the funding for the sidewalks and construction will begin after the first of the year.

There is also a master sidewalk plan in the works, so more areas around town will be getting sidewalks in the next few years.