CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Clarksville will soon see a boost in its infrastructure after the Clarksville City Council passed its new budget, which includes an investment in sidewalks around its schools.

The council opted to invest in school safety over downtown parking with $6 million diverted from a proposed parking deck to build more sidewalks.

It comes at a critical time for students at Clarksville-Montgomery County Schools (CMCS).

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Due to a nationwide and local shortage of school bus drivers, CMCS updated its transportation routes for the upcoming school year, expanding the radius of the parent responsibility zone (PRZ), the area in which families are responsible for providing transportation for students, by half a mile for both elementary and secondary students to:

  • 1 mile for elementary students
  • 1 ½ miles for middle and high school students

Although there are exceptions, many of these children are walking on unsafe roads with no sidewalks.

“You’re either walking in someone’s yard, who may or may not want you trespassing, or you’re on the road because there’s a very narrow bike lane,” said concerned parent, Megan Barrett.

News 2 also spoke to a junior who attends Northeast High School off Trenton Road. She said she walks about a mile to school every day, and there are times she does not feel safe.

It’s why councilman Brian Zacharias went to work, hoping to fix the lack of infrastructure, pushing and ultimately passing an amendment to Clarksville’s new budget, which moves millions of dollars for a parking deck to a sidewalk fund for Clarksville-Montgomery County Schools.

“It isn’t just parents; it’s kids as well that want this, so it’s great to be able to provide something they need and want and be able to take advantage of,” Zacharias said. “I see this as a great sign that community involvement in this process really makes a difference, and I hope it encourages other people to do the same.”

According to Zacharias, seven schools will benefit immediately from the fund. The informal list of the schools includes:

Zacharias’s amendment passed on the second reading with “no” votes coming from Travis Holleman, Stacey Streetman, Joe Shakeenab, and Mayor Joe Pitts.

We reached out to the mayor to ask why he voted the way he did.

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On the phone, he said the sidewalk fund was a good idea but thinks it could have been done differently and was hoping for a more concrete plan.