Council Paves the Way for TOW Path


By Jennifer Erikson | LB Indy

TOW area trail site.
TOW area trail site.

Residents of Old Top of the World rejoiced Tuesday when the City Council approved the much-favored design for a path for pedestrians and cyclists between the hilltop communities of Arch Beach Heights and Top of the World, but nixed widening Top of the World Drive, a private street.

While an existing fire access road traversing Aliso and Wood Canyons Park provides a nearly complete link between the two communities, that paved link is closed to the public at a gate where it becomes a private roadway for the residents of Sommet du Monde. With the paved thruway cut off, travelers resort to an improvised route that skirts the private properties.

Tricky enough for sure-footed hikers, the makeshift path requires cyclists to dismount and walk their bikes, makes runners anxious and renders the final leg of the journey impassible for strollers, toddlers, the elderly and the disabled. It’s a constant frustration to parents from Arch Beach Heights wishing to walk their school-aged children to Top of the World Elementary.

Since a proposal to allow public use of Sommet du Monde was quashed in 2010, locals have been pushing for the city to improve the alternate route to make it safer for all travelers.

The Council’s approval of a design in August and the Planning Commission’s conditional approval of the necessary permits for the project in November had nearly sealed the deal. But in addition to the trail route and design, that project also stipulated improvements to Top of the World Drive that included widening the street, adding a rolled curb and constructing a decomposed granite pathway next to the trailhead, all features widely criticized by the neighborhood’s residents.

Still, the project would have moved forward had not City Manager John Peitig used his prerogative to appeal it to the City Council because, as a city project, he felt it was “important that the City Council have last opportunity to weigh in on it before we move forward,” he said.

The appeal also gave the public one more time to be heard. Most of the 15 people who addressed the matter Tuesday spoke in favor of the path but against any improvements to Top of the World Drive.

Top of the World Neighborhood Association treasurer Carol Buss encouraged the Council to approve the plans for the trail and get it done quickly, but implored them to let the controversial street improvements “be a separate issue.”

“Old Top of the World is special and it’s unique, and you’re taking away the quaintness” by improving the road, said Tracy Robinson, voicing the concerns of many in the neighborhood. “I’m here to plead with you. Please just stick to the trail,” said Cheri David.

At the end of the day, the Council heard their pleas.


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