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Lynchburg sidewalk controversy has public safety officials concerned

Lynchburg Firefighters Association new campaign video 'Sidewalk to Nowhere'

LYNCHBURG, Va. – City Councilman Sterling Wilder represents Ward 2, a low-income community where a majority of community members walk or have no transportation.

It's also where a sidewalk is being proposed. Wilder says this is a project that's been in the works for several years.

"I have people coming to my office saying when are they going to build a sidewalk for Florida Avenue. I have people always asking me that question," Wilder said.

To build the sidewalk it could cost about $9 million, a price tag City Council members say is only an estimate "About half of that I believe is coming from state funds, from regular sharing money I believe, and a portion -- half of that also is coming from the city. So the city's not paying the whole total amount," Wilder said.

But a new campaign video called "Sidewalk to Nowhere," put out by the Lynchburg Firefighters Association, says that money could be used for the department instead.

"Not saying that Florida Avenue doesn't deserve a sidewalk. Absolutely they need a sidewalk, but at the cost that they're proposing, it seems a little unnecessary than needed," Brandon Barney, spokesperson for the Lynchburg Fire Association, said.

The association said the department is behind on pay raises and needs more staff.

"We just want the public to question why that cost is so extreme and the feasibility of doing a project at this time when we have public safety fire and EMS (emergency medical services) and our dispatchers are lagging behind in pay," Barney said.

City leaders said a salary study was done last year and they are addressing the salary issues for public safety.

But still want the best for their constituents.

"We as a city we need to continue to appreciate our residents, whether you live in Ward 3, or 4, or 1. Wherever you live we need to appreciate them and spend the resources to make sure our citizens are protected," Wilder said.

Wilder tells 10 News more information will come out in the next City Council meeting about the sidewalk proposal.


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