This week's question is: Should city residents have to pay to repair their sidewalks? How would you solve this long-standing issue?
R. Noel Brady, 68
40 E. Antietam St.
As a property owner I have been very upset at times about the sidewalk issue. We have to maintain the sidewalks, remove the snow, but we don't own them. We can't have someone removed who is causing a disturbance because they are public property. I understand citizens on fixed incomes cannot afford to replace sidewalks in front of their home. They can hardly pay their property taxes. I know the city can't afford to repair all the sidewalks. So we have a dilemma. The council will need help from the property owners on how to work out this problem. The council cannot do it alone.
William M. Breichner, 77
1117 Oak Hill Ave.
City code requires that the property owner is responsible for the installation and upkeep of curb and sidewalk in front of their property. Normally, the construction of improvements on any property requires the installation of such improvements. Thus, they are paid for by the property owner. In the past, there have been two basic problems with this issue: 1) new developments were allowed to avoid the installation and 2) in the past, the city has been lax in enforcing the replacement or repair of deteriorated concrete. In addition, whether notice has been given or not, a vast number of property owners who have damaged curb and/or pavement are concerned for the public safety and have borne the expense of repairs. If the city were to undertake this duty, many who have met their responsibility would be unfairly required to support those that did not do so through their tax dollars.
Martin E. Brubaker, 62
183 Brynwood St.
City residents will be paying for sidewalk repairs regardless, via the current system and/or through taxes and fees. Sidewalks should be kept in good repair. The question remains what is the most cost-efficient way to achieve this objective and what is the most equitable means to pay for it? Finally, if changed, how can we insure fairness to those who have paid for sidewalk repairs in recent years? It strikes me that if large stretches or many sections of sidewalk can be repaired at one time, the overall cost should be less and the impact greater. However, there are many ways the cost could be assessed. A formula addressing the considerations I have listed would be needed before changes are made. The mayor has proposed a task force to study this issue. I would carefully examine the data and recommendations of this group before coming to my own conclusions. Â
David A. Lidz, 43
716 Summit Ave.
Although it is my priority to lower taxes for the Citizens of Hagerstown, I support the Mayor's plan to have the City assume maintenance of sidewalks. The proposal calls for a $7 to $12 per quarter levy, but will allow the city to negotiate huge discounts from paving contractors, thereby bringing significant net savings to our citizens. There are several concerns and questions which I need to see worked out, such as
o Do the numbers work? When analyzing the proposal's cost and feasibility, what criteria are we using to determine maintenance and replacement needs?
o How will the City equitably levy property-owners -- for example how will large commercial property holders with hundreds of feet of sidewalk be levied as compared to homeowners who have a fraction of that?
o How will we deal with or compensate property owners who recently paid to repave their sidewalks or don't have public sidewalks?
Lewis C. Metzner, 56
322 E. Irvin Ave.