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Screenland Drive sidewalk battle heats up again

Neighbors oppose them, school officials say street is unsafe for kids.

August 23, 2013
  • Because there are no sidewalks and the public right of way is blocked with bushes and fences at many homes, parents and students walk along the road on the 1800 block of Screenland Drive as they head to orientation day for new students at Burbank Middle School in Burbank on Thursday, August 15, 2013. A woman walking her child to school commented that it was "strange" there were no sidewalks.
Because there are no sidewalks and the public right of… (Raul Roa / Staff…)

The debate over installing sidewalks in front of homes near Luther Burbank Middle School has heated up again, with school officials fighting for the sidewalks and most neighbors adamantly against them.

More than two years ago, the Burbank City Council accepted a $125,000 federal grant to install sidewalks along the 1800 and 1900 blocks of Screenland Drive to give students a safe path on which to walk to school.

On Tuesday, the council is slated to decide whether to move forward with construction. A majority of the 44 families who live on the two blocks are opposed to the project, according to past reports.

That includes homeowner Janet Strong, whose family has lived on Screenland since 1939.

“If the sidewalk would create safety for kids, that would be one thing; but nobody’s going to use it,” she said, adding that sidewalks would impair the vision of motorists exiting their driveways. “The real problem is congestion and traffic all built up there in front of the school.”

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But school officials are arguing that with the middle school busy all day and most nights, students need a safe walking route on Screenland.

“It’s extremely dangerous for students,” said Luther Principal Brian O'Rourke, adding that local residents complain to him about students walking on their lawns. While he understands their frustration, the students “have no other option,” he said.

Councilman David Gordon, who was the sole vote against the project in 2011, said an alternative needs to be considered because it is clear most neighbors don’t want sidewalks installed.

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Follow Alene Tchekmedyian on Google+ and on Twitter: @atchek.

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