Account of the Streets and Infrastructure Committee meeting
The Streets and Infrastructure Committee met on Thursday evening to discuss the agenda item “Sidewalks and Curbs Repair Assistance Program” which was referred to the committee by Councilperson Moore.
Councilperson Joe Sanker began the meeting with a brief history of the City’s past efforts in sidewalk repair. Back when we had a Public Works crew dedicated to concrete work, regular maintenance of the sidewalks was supervised and paid-for by the City. In the decades since then the policy in Norwood has been that the property owner is responsible for maintaining the sidewalks in front of their property.
521.06 DUTY TO KEEP SIDEWALKS IN REPAIR AND CLEAN.
(a.) No owner or occupant of abutting lands shall fail to keep the sidewalks, curbs or gutters in repair and free from snow, ice or any nuisance. (ORC 723.011)
It was noted that some municipalities offer to help defray the cost of such repairs.
In the meeting we discussed several possible scenarios for encouraging property owners to initiate such repairs. These included designating one area each year that would be the focus for repair efforts. Another suggestion was to begin the first year with a citywide voluntary program that would serve to inform the residents of their responsibilities before a more aggressive program is instituted in subsequent years. Common to any program discussed was the idea that the repairs could be made at a lower cost if the City were to contract with one company to do all the work and thus receive something like a “bulk rate.” To that point, a resident in attendance at the meeting noted that caution should taken if the choice of concrete contractor was left to the individual property owner. It was pointed out that such a policy might open the door to a form of bid-rigging that would inflate the cost of an estimate in an attempt to unfairly collect more from the City for a given repair.
The ultimate purpose of any program established by Council would be to eliminate the dangerous and unsightly stretches of sidewalks that inevitably develop over time in older neighborhoods such as ours.
Program particulars aside, it was acknowledged that many property owners are not currently aware of their responsibility for maintaining their sidewalks and that an effective public information program would be helpful in achieving the goal of ultimately upgrading the curbs and sidewalks in our city. It must also be noted that any effort that involved City participation in funding these types of repairs will mean having to make decisions about where limited City revenues that are not already committed would be best spent.
In the end the Committee is not prepared to make any specific recommendations to Council. The meeting was adjourned with the understanding that additional information was needed before another meeting would be called. At this point the members of the committee are encouraging citizens to contact them with any thoughts or insights they might have, particularly those from previous experiences in other communities.
Streets and Infrastructure Committee
Norwood City Council