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Some sidewalk repairs likely

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According to a recent Village sidewalk analysis, the majority of local sidewalks are in good to passable shape and are compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act standards. However, 27 percent of village sidewalks are in poor to impassable shape, and should be repaired. Village Council discussed the sidewalk report at a work session on Monday, Aug. 17, and ventured some early opinions on addressing the repairs by either assessing individual property owners or creating a new tax levy.

While most Council members leaned toward a levy to fund the sidewalk repairs in the long-term, they acknowledged that due to the large operating levy renewal the Village plans to seek in May 2016, it would be at least 2017 before new tax revenue could fund any repairs. And Council member Brian Housh pushed to have the Village repair the most damaged sidewalks, especially those around the Bryan Center property, immediately, regardless of the long-term funding solution.

According to the sidewalk report, prepared by Assistant Village Manager John Yung with summer planning intern Scott Sears, the village has over 90,000 linear feet of sidewalk spread over 786 public and private properties, not including Antioch College campus. Using a 1 (minimal damage, not hazardous to pedestrians, no need for immediate attention) to 5 (extreme damage, hazardous to pedestrians, virtually untraversable, requires extensive repairs) rating system, Yung found that 214 properties rated 3 or higher, and recommended replacement of the damaged sections at those locations. Yung also found that of a total 661 properties that should have ADA compliant ramps and turn-arounds, 125 do not meet the current ADA standards — largely because they lack the proper apron ramps for ingress and egress.

Of the properties with most damaged sidewalks, 11 were rated a 5 and weren’t ADA compliant, including sidewalks along the Village’s Bryan Center property, several along Xenia Avenue and East Center College Street, and other discreet locations around the village.

The estimated cost to repair the sidewalks rated 3 or higher to ADA standards is $1.34 million, which, according to the sidewalk report, falls outside current Village budget limits. Yung suggested two options to fund the repairs. One is to return the responsibility for sidewalk maintenance to individual property owners and offer a 50 percent reduction in replacement costs, which could be realized through bulk savings if the Village did the work. The other option would be a $1.4 million sidewalk maintenance levy for the Nov. 2016 ballot.

Council member Marianne MacQueen favored keeping sidewalk maintenance under the Village’s purview.

“It makes sense for the Village to take responsibility for sidewalks as a mode of transporation,” she said, adding that property owners shouldn’t have to pay for sidewalks if they don’t want them.

Askeland, Housh and Council President Karen Wintrow agreed that a new levy would likely be the most effective solution. Gerry Simms said he wanted more input from villagers before deciding on the long-term solution. But because the Village is seeking a renewal of the current 8.6-mill $760,000 annual operating levy for the May 2016 ballot and Council wants to avoid two simultaneous levies, even if the sidewalk levy passed, the funding and therefore maintenance wouldn’t begin until 2017. Brian Housh strongly recommended Council act before then.

“There is still time for sidewalk repair this year. What’s stopping us from voluntarily getting some of the 5s fixed?” he said.

Bates suggested using some of the $50,000 set aside for the Streetscape project, which was postponed until 2016, to fix the sidewalks around the Bryan Center and perhaps some of the worst spots elsewhere in the village. Council members agreed that the 11 worst properties should be taken care of as soon as possible, before the long-term funding is settled, if necessary. That task will be eased by the fact that the properties rated 5 along the south end of Xenia Avenue will be repaired in the final phase of the water line project the Village already has planned for this fall.

Council meets next on Monday, Aug. 24, at 6 p.m. beginning with an executive session, followed by a short discussion with the Climate Action Commission, legislation for Melissa Vanzant’s new contract as assistant Village manager (replacing John Yung, who took a new planning job in Cincinnati), police policy discussion, economic sustainability, budget and levy discussion and a review of the work sessions.


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