The Urban County Council voted 11 to 4 on Thursday night to go ahead with a controversial plan to install sidewalks along a portion of Tates Creek Road.
The issue had seen intense lobbying on both sides with those in favor holding a rally earlier this week, while opponents hired a lawyer to represent them.
"The council supports sidewalks and connectivity," said Doug Martin of District 10 after the vote. "It's good for folks to get out of the house and walk to the store and bike to the Arboretum."
The sidewalks, which will be between Lakewood Drive and New Circle Road, are to be funded primarily by a federal grant, though the city plans to kick in around $200,000 of the million-dollar price tag.
Never miss a local story.
That funding became an issue during the debate as citizens questioned whether the city's money could be better used elsewhere.
Councilman Tom Blues of the District 2 noted, though, that it's a four-fold return on taxpayer money.
Opponents also questioned the necessity of the project.
Bruce Simpson, the attorney who represented the opponents, said the sidewalks are not "a high-priority project" in the city's bike and pedestrian master plan. He also noted that a substantial amount of utilities and cable lines will be affected. He said Vision Engineering has estimated the costs of moving those lines to be several hundred thousand dollars.
Debate suggested the utility companies are required to move such lines, but Simpson questioned that, saying "I'm not sure that is right or legal."
Opponents also focused on how sidewalks would ruin the aesthetics of the neighborhood. Many have placed signs in their yards that say "Keep Tates Creek Green" or "No Impervious Sidewalks."
But Judy Worth, president of the Lansdowne Neighborhood Association and a former member of the city's tree board, said many of the pin oak trees along that corridor are "sick and dying."
Others in support noted how much safer they would feel walking along the road, where a well-worn dirt path now exists for the many bicyclists and pedestrians who travel it daily.
Earlier in the week, about 70 people walked the area in what they called a "Walk-in for Sidewalks."
Keith Lovan of the city's engineering department confirmed that people would be able to ride bicycles along the sidewalks. He said bicycles are allowed on sidewalks outside of the downtown business district.
He also said that he expects that the $1 million in combined federal grant and city money will be enough for the project. He said the city already owns at least 90 percent of the right-of-way in that area, having bought some of it when Tates Creek Road was widened.
The passage was greeted with much celebration by David Stevens, a former council member who pushed for the sidewalks a decade ago.
The plan was denounced by many opponents at the time and didn't have the benefit of a federal government grant.
Now, though, it has passed, and "after they're in, I think everybody will be happy," Stevens said. "I think we need sidewalks everywhere."