by Terry Rogers
In an effort to create a more walkable community, the City of Milford is launching a Sidewalk Repair Program designed to make sidewalks throughout the City safer and more appealing. The Public Works Department recently completed the first of four phases of sidewalk inspections, starting with streets serving public schools as well as collector streets. Any building owner whose sidewalk was identified as needing repair received a letter explaining that there were deficiencies they needed to address and informing them that there would be a public information meeting on Monday, July 23, from 4 to 6 PM at City Hall.
“City Ordinance Chapter 197 spells out who is responsible for sidewalk repairs, but it has not been enforced in years,” City Manager Eric Norenberg said. “What we have done is create a program that gives property owners options. They can choose to have the sidewalk repaired by the contractor of their choosing. They may find it more convenient to have the City do the repair and send an invoice which may be paid in full or repaid over a five-year period.”
Mark Whitfield, Public Works Director, says that the ordinance is well-written and that the main goal for the new program is to fix deteriorated sidewalks that have become safety hazards. Collector streets are identified as main streets like Washington, Walnut and Front Streets.
“Culturally, communities are becoming more walkable and bikeable,” Whitfield explained. “The good thing about this area is that our climate does not lead to significant sidewalk issues due to freezing temperatures, so repairs should last a long time. Our goal is to do one ward each year so folks won’t be hit with sidewalk inspections one right after another.”
At a City Council meeting when the issue was discussed, Councilman Owen Brooks asked that it be made clear that the property owner is responsible for maintaining their sidewalk and that the City should not get involved in repairing sidewalks. Norenberg explained that the code is clear that the property owner is responsible and there is a also a notification process included in the code.
“We definitely need to inform the public,” Councilwoman Lisa Peel said. “A number of residents in my ward complain to me about the condition of their sidewalk even though it is their responsibility. I don’t think a lot of people understand that the sidewalk conditions are their responsibility.”
Whitfield also explained that in areas where the City or the State was planning to resurface streets or replace curbing, those sidewalks will also be replaced with the costs included in the total cost of the project. The same is true of streets identified in the five-year street plan.
The letter sent to property owners whose sidewalks have already been identified as needing repair will be sent formal notices the beginning of August if the repairs are still needed. At that time, the City will outline specific sidewalk blocks that need repair and, if the repairs are not completed by October 2018, the City will begin making the repairs in the spring of 2019. If the City makes the repairs, the property owner will receive an invoice for the cost of the repair.
For more information about the sidewalk program or to learn more about the public meeting, contact the City of Milford at 422-1111.
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