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City of Lodi to widen Hutchins Street

Council decides to reduce sidewalk size after complaints

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Posted: Thursday, March 22, 2012 12:00 am | Updated: 7:16 am, Thu Mar 22, 2012.

The Lodi City Council unanimously approved reconstructing Hutchins Street from Lodi Avenue to Pine Street, but changed the project to reduce the size of the sidewalks after four residents complained about the yard space they would lose.

The project is estimated to cost $1 million, and city staff said it will include new asphalt concrete pavement, new Americans with Disability Act-compliant sidewalks and pedestrian safety features.

Public Works Director Wally Sandelin said the reason the city is doing the project is because his department can no longer adequately repair the street.

"I've heard from many council members in the past that the street is disintegrating and that we need to fix it," Sandelin said.

On Wednesday afternoon, Susan Hanning stood in front of the tan building that doubles as her home and business, The Cellar Art Studio, and pointed to how much of her lawn she would lose to the city's planned 7 1/2 foot sidewalk.

City staff said the goal of the wider sidewalks was to give additional room for people who park on the road to walk to Hutchins Street Square.

Jerry Hanning, Susan's husband, said at the council meeting that people rarely park in front of their home, and they have never noticed a problem with large groups walking down the street.

"I feel like that's overkill. We have a five-foot sidewalk, and it's fine," Jerry Hanning said at the council meeting.

Because of the small lawns in the area, the 2 1/2 feet make a significant different, homeowner James Frank said.

"My lawn disappears, and I will end up with sidewalk within four feet of our home," he said.

After hearing the citizens' concerns, Councilman Larry Hansen suggested the council approve the 5-foot sidewalk.

"If it doesn't affect the project, then I'm inclined to stick with the five-foot sidewalk," he said.

Sandelin said the wider streets will allow for better traffic flow, especially the intersection at Lodi Avenue and Hutchins Street.

The city has acquired the property for the widening from property owners over the last 15 years through friendly negotiations or construction activities, Sandelin said.

One thing that a majority of the neighbors do agree on is the need for a new street, because the current one is filled with temporary patches, large cracks and potholes. The sidewalks also have asphalt repairs and inaccessible curbs for wheelchairs or strollers.

While standing on his porch, Matthew Jones said the area in front of Hutchins Street Square is the worst street in Lodi.

"You drive down it and it shakes your car around. It's horrible, especially with one of the nicer places like Hutchins Street Square. You want to have a nice street," he said.

Susan Hanning said they are ready for the construction, and her business plans to use two parking spaces in the back to accommodate their clients.

"We've been here 26 years, and they have never resurfaced the street, so it's time for something to be done," Susan Hanning said.

But some residents are still upset the council is planning to widen the street at all.

James Frank and Kharis Powell own a house on Hutchins, and sent in a letter saying they strongly disagree with the widening project, because they believe it will decrease their property value.

"We already experience loud noise and rattling windows in our home, particularly from loud motorcycles and certain very loud trucks," they wrote.

Frank L. Haversack III said he also is not pleased that the city will be taking any amount of his yard away for the project.

One of the other reasons Haversack is concerned about a wider roadway is that it will bring more traffic from Stockton. He has been robbed once in his driveway, and he said that people coming from Stockton have increased the crime and gang problem in Lodi.

"The road itself needs to be repaved, but that's the extent of it. I don't really think we need to widen it, and if that's just to allow people to come up West Lane from Stockton, they can take the freeway, they can take 99," he said.

Contact reporter Maggie Creamer at maggiec@lodinews.com. Read her blog at www.lodinews.com/blogs/citybuzz.

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