Editor, In her Oct 3 story, "Retail center financing approved," Katherine Ritz Hahn writes:"Michele Barrett,..., submitted paper and online petitions to the board asking that they reject the shopping center and the TIF if the developers are unable to create a pedestrian-friendly, environmentally responsible, community-oriented development plan. While Barrett says she's not opposed to the retail plaza, she wants residents in her neighborhood to be able to safely walk across Route 422 to the stores."
It seems, from a recent article printed in the Reading Eagle, that the Exeter supervisors have little intention of requiring pedestrian/cycling facilities in our community. In fact, the developers' attorney stated that the current plans (which show no modifications for pedestrian access) are acceptable to both developers and supervisors. Sadly, they ignore the recommendations of the Exeter Planning Commission, the Berks County Planning Commission, PennDOT, and national regulations that stipulate that:
"Every project must consider the need to incorporate pedestrian and bicycle elements in order to accommodate these modes of transportation."
It is no longer enough to just say that there is no pedestrian or bicycling activity or element to a project.
Â€¢ Pedestrian attractions, such as schools, parks, commercial and business establishments, and residential areas must be considered and accommodated.
Â€¢ Just because the existing roadway does not have a pedestrian facility does not mean that it shouldn't have one.
IF NOT WHY NOT? There may be latent demand for a pedestrian facility."
There is definitely a "latent demand for pedestrian facilities." Mothers in Exeter would like safer streets for their children at play. They want a community where children can walk or bike to school, the library, or the playground. Elderly residents need to retain their independence and mobility by being able to walk freely throughout their neighborhoods. Teens should come and go freely between their homes, their extra-curricular activities, and their part-time jobs-without getting in a car with their parents. Families deserve the right to choose to walk or bike to local recreational facilities such as biking paths, community pools, and/or fitness gyms. Cyclists could abandon their cars to travel pollution-free. Every person traveling Rt 422 demands that we reduce traffic in that area rather than increase it. Simply, the more residents who can move about the community without driving, the fewer cars there will be on the roads.
In a time when global warming, air pollution, and childhood obesity are serious issues, Exeter residents must be granted the right to contribute to the wellness of their children, themselves, and their community as a whole. This one - very large - development is the opportunity we have to begin making Exeter a walkable/bikable community, and, as a result, change our quality of life for the better. I do support this development because I see how much we could benefit if it is done correctly. Sadly, it appears that our Township Supervisors do not understand the potential that comes with adding sidewalks to our streets.
PennDOT and the Berks County Planning Commission have made pedestrian and cycling facilities a priority in their master plans. It's time that our municipal leaders begin working toward those same goals.