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City: Hesed House will  get crosswalk after crash

Executive Director Ryan Dowd  Hesed House Aurora.

Executive Director Ryan Dowd of Hesed House in Aurora.

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Updated: January 26, 2013 6:11AM

AURORA — On the heels of a car crash that injured a 5-year-old homeless girl, the city will install a crosswalk on River Street between two Hesed House buildings.

The crash occurred at 5:48 p.m. Dec. 11 when the girl dashed out into the middle of the roadway, running in front of a SUV that was southbound on River Street.

She was struck by the vehicle and taken to a local hospital, where she was treated and released, Hesed House Executive Director Ryan Dowd said.

No citations were issued in the crash, according to police.

The 5-year-old was leaving an after-school program to go to the homeless shelter for the night.

Crosswalk delay

Dowd said he has attempted to get a crosswalk installed on River Street since this summer. Hesed House’s new Comprehensive Resource Center building and the shelter building are on opposite sides of River Street.

According to city spokesman Dan Ferrelli, a request was made by Hesed House for the installation of a crosswalk between its two facilities this summer. City staff reviewed and approved the request.

Dowd said that he received approval from the city’s Government Operations Committee to install the crosswalk this summer.

The committee approved the request pending approval by Alderman Rick Lawrence, 4th Ward, Ferrelli said.

State law mandates that new crosswalks be ADA accessible, which requires the existing curb to be cut out and new concrete to be poured, Ferrelli said.

Dowd called Lawrence with the request to use aldermanic funds to put in curb cuts. Hesed House is in the 4th Ward.

Ward funds

Ferrelli said that a curb cutting project typically costs about $1,500, but could cost more in winter months when more concrete is needed.

“Small infrastructure projects, such as these, are typically funded through ward funds,” Ferrelli said. Each ward aldermen is allocated $50,000 annually to complete local infrastructure projects.

Lawrence said a crosswalk would not have prevented a car crash at the site. And he said he was not interested in using ward money to fund the project.

“Usually for any private place, Hesed House is a private place, for something like that they should pay for it or get someone to donate it themselves,” Lawrence said. “I’m not interested in using tax dollars for it.”

Ferrelli confirmed Lawrence did not authorize the expenditure of his ward funds for the completion of the improvement.

When the mayor’s office found that the ward funds were not authorized to complete the project, it requested that the crosswalk be completed as soon as possible with city funds.

At the time of the request, the 2012 sidewalk program was closed, but now the project has been prioritized to be completed just after Jan. 1 if concrete is available, Ferrelli said.

Lawrence said he would not use ward funds for a Hesed House project because the shelter is a “drain on taxpayers in Aurora.”

“If you want to focus on families and children, that’s one thing. But having drug addicts and every person with a mental illness mixed in with them is disgusting in and of itself,” Lawrence said.

“During the day, they tell the rest of Aurora, you handle the drug addicts on your street and it hurts our community.”

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