The Sidewalk Saga
Let me tell you a little tale about a sidewalk in Houston. This is a sidewalk story familiar to most, but to be fair, this story all began with a strip of grass. This lone strip of grass, wedged between a street and a parking lot, often filled with cars. Why, you ask? Well, the patrons of the River Oaks Shopping Center are much too lazy to use the parking garage that is across the street and then walk to their destination, so they resorted to parking in the grass strip which was just wide enough for two cars. It made enough sense that no one really cared much; after all, if someone would just pave the grass over, it would become part of the existing parking lot. No harm done, right?
Well, then came the lack-of-planning committee. They decided that parking in the grass was unacceptable and proceeded to pave the little grass strip and unite the parking lot so that all the lazy shoppers wouldn’t have to get their cute shoes wet when parking in the grass instead of the brand new parking garage built just for them. As luck would have it, the lack-of-planning department decided cars were much more important than people, and thus did not plan for a sidewalk. No one was really surprised, though much grumbling did occur. The new parking went in, and landscaping went up. Shrubs and trees were happily living life until someone, somewhere, pitched a fit and said that this new development did not meet code.
So, the brand new landscaping was ripped out and made way for a sidewalk. The people cheered, the plants cried. The motorists went on parking, enjoying their new paved parking spots. In went the sidewalk…well, at least part of it. Soon, the pedestrians realized that this sidewalk was not really for them. Nay, it was for code. So in went the single wheelchair ramp that promptly dumped you into the parking lot but didn’t connect with the existing sidewalk a mere 20 feet away. The lack-of-planning department decided saving part of the new landscaping was the cost of their first oversight, and in the process made a second oversight.
The brand new ramp was not at the correct incline. The code enforcement watchdogs pounced once again, and out came the ramp. A few days after completion, the ramp was jack-hammered out and a new ramp poured to appease the code enforcement team. Still no connection to the existing sidewalk a mere 20 feet away. Finally, a “sidewalk” was formed by blocking half of the new parking spaces to create a walkway, and the pedestrians rejoiced! The parkers grumbled and everyone scratched their head.
In a story not unlike the tale of the old lady who swallowed a fly, and then a spider to catch the fly and so on and so forth until she died, our wonderful lack-of-planning department paved the grass to allow some parking, then planted some trees to prevent eroding, but ripped out the plants to put in a ramp, then removed the ramp to avoid a stamp, then replaced said access to please the masses and blocked the new parking with some concrete impasses. So while we now have a sidewalk of sorts, the whole point of the paving was defeated – of course.
Written by: Brinn Miracle