Sidewalk project on Belvin Street at a crossroads

Most+of+the+sidewalk+is+complete+and+only+Coppoletta%27s+home+is+left.+Photo+credit%3A+Michael+Garcia
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Sidewalk project on Belvin Street at a crossroads

Most of the sidewalk is complete and only Coppoletta's home is left. Photo credit: Michael Garcia

Most of the sidewalk is complete and only Coppoletta's home is left. Photo credit: Michael Garcia

Most of the sidewalk is complete and only Coppoletta's home is left. Photo credit: Michael Garcia

Most of the sidewalk is complete and only Coppoletta's home is left. Photo credit: Michael Garcia

Michael Garcia

The Sidewalk Maintenance & Gap Infill is a five-year program to create well-connected pedestrian walkways across the city and repair or install sidewalks in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. The project is slated to cost $150,000 annually for the next five years. The program stirred controversy when construction started on Belvin Street.

City council place 2 candidate and Belvin Street resident Lisa Marie Coppoletta has been the main opposing voice to the project. Coppoletta is concerned about installing a sidewalk on her property, as it may kill five of her heritage live oak trees. She believes the sidewalk could lead to flooding on her block as well.

“If you put in a sidewalk, you are eliminating ground soil where the water comes in and you are now pushing the floodwaters five feet closer to our front doors,” Coppoletta said.

To ensure the trees were not harmed, Assistant City Manager Steve Parker said the city decided to install a bulb-out, or curb extension, along critical routes. However, the newly constructed bulb-outs sparked a debate within the community. Residents complained to the city they were unable to back out of their driveway.

‘We put in the bulb-outs to address some of the safety concerns related to protecting the trees,” Parker said. “But I do not think people realized that bulb-outs stick out into the street as far as they do.”

In response, the city removed the bulb-outs but is still facing the issue of needing to build on Coppoletta’s property to install the sidewalk.

Coppoletta said her block is historical, citing her home is one of the oldest in San Marcos. The street is littered with Native artifacts.

“I’ve got artifacts in my land and if they dig into my yard, they are going to crush arrowheads, crystals and atlatl points,” Coppoletta said.

The city handed out leaflets to the neighborhood Jan. 15 to inform residents about the new sidewalk addition. Parker said the city conducted a survey to determine public opinion, citing most people were indifferent or in favor while a few had called on Coppoletta’s behalf.

“As far as the people we surveyed on the street, the majority were either indifferent or wanted the sidewalk,” Parker said. “The main complaints from (people) on wanting the sidewalk live on that street. We have had a couple that has called on Coppoletta’s behalf to say they think the sideway should not go there.”

Parker said the main purpose of the sidewalk is to ensure the safety of San Marcos residents.

“It was really a project related to (city officials) in the fact we value the safety of our citizens’ lives,” Parker said.

Other residents have voiced concerns about the sidewalk, including Mary Renteria, who lives adjacent to Coppoletta. Renteria said she does not understand why the city put a sidewalk on Belvin Street in the first place.

”We have never had a sidewalk, and we haven’t had any problems,” Renteria said. “They’re going to have to go through (Coppoletta’s) yard and probably mess up some of the roots.”

Coppoletta hopes a resolution comes before the city continues to build on her property. Parker said Coppoletta has been sent a 60-day notice regarding construction in December.

“We just gave Coppoletta that 60-day notice just to be consistent, so that will put the sidewalk being started again probably in early December,” Parker said. “It won’t take but maybe a couple of weeks to finish it from there.”

The city is expected to finish the sidewalk in December.

For more information, visit the Transportation page at sanmarcostx.gov/273/Transportation.

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