A working group of the Van Buren Planning Commission is studying the future of sidewalk regulations in the city.

The four-member group along with City Planner Joe Hurst met Monday in the city council room of the Municipal Complex to look at current regulations governing sidewalks in new subdivisions, ways to repair existing sidewalks and ideas to construct sidewalks in established neighborhoods.

The working group discussed the possibility of adding regulations to city codes which would require sidewalks to be installed in subdivisions and other developments.

"Sidewalks have become a quality of life issue," said Andy Dibble, planning commission chairman.

Hurst pointed out 70 percent of those responding to a recent survey conducted by the parks and recreation commission cited the need for sidewalks.

Scott Morgan suggested the study group consider sidewalks for new construction, then consider existing sidewalks. "We need to start somewhere," he said.

Dibble established the cost of a sidewalk on a 70-foot lot in a residential neighborhood at between $1,500 and $1,600.

"Everything adds up," Dibble said, "but in the grand scheme this is not a lot of money."

Jason Myers said the group needed to determine where sidewalks are needed most.

Hurst suggested establishing a workable map of where current sidewalks are and then determine the shape they are in.

Morgan said the group needed to set the standards and move forward, getting the new standards in place as quickly as possible.

"Doing something will make one group happy and another not," Myers said. "Doing nothing will make one group happy and another not."

Lynn Graham said the group needs to consider regulations which will make the city attractive enough "to where our kids want to come back."

Dibble said the working group will next meet at noon Feb. 19 at the Municipal Complex.

Hurst noted any changes to city code will be presented to the planning commission during a public hearing before going to the city council which will then decide whether to accept or deny the new regulations.