City leaders hope new paths will encourage
bicycle use, walking
By Lindsay Redifer
Idaho Press Tribune
CALDWELL Caldwell city leaders want it to be easier
for kids and families to get around town on foot or by bicycle
and have set goals to make that happen.
The objective is particularly timely because of the development
of the city's new Caldwell Family YMCA, which will attract
young people from across the city to its new location near
Caldwell High School.
Starting this fall, the high school itself will take on ninth-graders,
who are more likely to walk to school rather than drive their
But walking and bike routes around the south part of town
For instance, Indiana Avenue, which leads from the central
city to the high school area, has sidewalks on one side of
the street but not on the other in places. As a result, pedestrians
and cyclists often share the busy road with cars.
Steve Hasson, Caldwell's development services director, said
new neighborhood development goals are designed to help overcome
"We're trying to create a connection between subdivisions,"
Hasson said, "and do away with this fortress mentality."
A standard adopted last year calls for "walkable neighborhoods,
the preservation of green space areas, connectivity, creation
of neighborhood centers and a grid street layout."
Caldwell is interpreting the concept by requiring new neighborhoods
to create a footpath going through the heart of each subdivision.
Those paths have to connect to other major paths in new neighborhoods.
Parks and recreational areas are being encouraged, as are
greenbelts alongside ditches for bike riding.
Any path or greenbelt is also required to have several feet
of landscaping on either side to keep walkers and bike riders
safe. Among other destinations, the new paths will eventually
connect residents to Caldwell High School and the future YMCA.
Safer routes for kids
Patricia Nacarelli, whose 14-year-old son Nick relies on foot
and bike power to get around Caldwell, welcomes the city's
effort to find safer ways for pedestrians to get around.
"I lived on Cherry off of Indiana, and there are sections
that have sidewalks but they'll stop for 50 feet and then
you're in the road," she said. "That's an extremely
She said the main priority should be to concentrate on schools
and other areas that get a lot of traffic from young people.
She said Nick will go to Caldwell High as a 10th-grader next
year and she would feel safer if the city had better ways
for walking and biking students to get to campus.
"As it is now, he walks to Jefferson Junior High,"
she said, "and no matter how he goes, there are places
where there are no sidewalks."
YMCA adds importance
The new Caldwell Y will be near the intersection of Indiana
and Ustick Road.
Caldwell YMCA campaign spokesman Tod McKay said that Y organizers
support any move that would make access to the Y easier. Construction
on the $13.5 million youth and family complex is expected
to start this year, with completion possible as early as fall
"The YMCA is just one piece of a bigger puzzle,"
McKay said he has not seen many of the plans for the neighborhood
paths but has been involved in a bike and walking trail project
While city developers and council members are excited about
the new goals for neighborhoods, there has been some resistance.
In some cases, residents of older, more established areas
are nervous about how they will be affected.
Change brings concerns
In some cases, connecting new developments to other subdivisions
causes worries about who will come and go.
Some residents of the Southgate Neighborhood, built in 1972,
expressed concerns about the future design of the proposed
Newbury Estates subdivision.
Even those in favor of the new development asked that the
Newbury subdivision include parks of its own so residents
would be less likely to use two private parks located within
the Southgate area.
In an interview, Harry Guenthner, president of the Southgate
Water Association, defended the residents' stance by saying
that Southgate residents had subsidized the park themselves.
"Now people from this new neighborhood will come over
and use it," he said.
Guenthner said his testimony to the City Council was given
as a representation of what many different homeowners in Southgate
felt. However, he said he is in favor of new, better looking
"We know they're going to be developed and we know they'll
be quality homes," he said.
Guenthner also said the idea of more foot trails and bike
trails appealed to him.
Hasson said the city's effort is designed to create a closer
sense of community among different subdivisions as well as
make foot and bike travel easier.
"It's exciting," he said. "We're breaking
down the whole cultural perspective. We're always trying to
find new connections at every level."